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FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 182417

April 3, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ALBERTO GONZALES y SANTOS, also known as
TAKYO, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The State, and no other party, has the responsibility to explain
the lapses in the procedures taken to preserve the chain of
custody of the dangerous drugs. Without the explanation by the
State, the evidence of the corpus delicti is unreliable, and the
acquittal of the accused should follow on the ground that his
guilt has not been shown beyond reasonable doubt.
The Case
Alberto S. Gonzales, also known as Takyo, appeals the
affirmance by the Court of Appeal (CA) of his conviction for
violating Section 5, Article II, of Republic Act No. 9165
(Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) handed down
by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Malolos, Bulacan.
Antecedents
On June 16, 2003, Gonzales was formally charged in the RTC
with a violation of Section 5, Article II, of Republic Act No.
9165 under the following information, to wit:
That on or about the 13th day of June, 2003, in the Municipality
of San Rafael, Province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the
1
jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused,
without authority of law and legal justification, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously sell, trade, deliver,
give away, dispatch in transit and transport dangerous drug

consisting of one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet of


methylamphetamine hydrochloride weighing 0.194 gram.
CONTRARY TO LAW.1
At arraignment, Gonzales entered a plea of not guilty.2
Version of the Prosecution
On June 12, 2003, an informant reported to the Provincial Drug
Enforcement Group (PDEG) based in Camp General Alejo
Santos, Malolos, Bulacan, that Gonzales was engaging in illegal
drug pushing. On June 13, 2003, Police Chief Inspector
Celedonio I. Morales planned to mount a buy-bust operation
against Gonzales, and designated PO1 Eduardo B. Dimla, Jr. to
act as the poseur buyer and PO2 Roel S. Chan to serve as the
back-up/arresting officer. PO1 Dimla marked with his own
initials "ED" each of the two P100.00 bills to be used as the
buy-bust money, and then recorded the marked bills in the police
blotter. At noontime of that same day, PO1 Dimla and PO2 Chan
met with the informant at Krus na Daan, San Rafael, Bulacan,
and the three of them proceeded to Banca-Banca, San Rafael,
Bulacan, where the house of Gonzales was located. After PO2
Chan posted himself beyond possible view of the suspect, PO1
Dimla and the informant approached Gonzales, with the
informant introducing PO1 Dimla to Gonzales as a buyer of
shabu worth P200.00. Gonzales handed to PO1 Dimla a plastic
sachet containing white substances, and in turn PO1 Dimla
handed the two marked P100.00 bills to Gonzales. At that point,
PO1 Dimla removed his cap, the pre-arranged signal, in reaction
to which PO2 Chan then rushed forward and arrested Gonzales.
PO1 Dimla then immediately marked the plastic sachet with his
initials "ED."3
The Bulacan Provincial Crime Laboratory Office certified that
2 sachet were 0.194 gram of shabu. 4
the contents the plastic
Version of the Defense

Gonzales denied the accusation. He attested that he was only


resting in front of his house in the afternoon of June 13, 2003,
when five armed men approached and forced him inside his
house; that they queried him on the whereabouts of his father,
but he told them he did not know; that they prevented his mother
from leaving the house to seek help from barangay officials; and
that after searching his house, they brought him to Camp
General Alejo Santos.5
Almarie, Gonzales sister, corroborated his version. She narrated
that in the afternoon of June 13, 2003, five armed men entered
their house; that when she tried to follow them inside, they shut
the door at her; that, however, she was able to see inside through
the window; that she heard the men querying her brother on the
whereabouts of their father; and that she reported the incident to
the barangay chairman, but when she and the barangay chairman
reached the house, the men and her brother were no longer
there.6
Ruling of the RTC
Giving credence to the narrative of PO1 Dimla as the
Prosecutions sole witness, the RTC convicted Gonzales of the
crime charged, viz:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, this Court finds
accused Alberto Gonzales y Santos @ Takyo GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the offense of Violation of Section 5, Article
II of R.A. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and hereby sentences him to
suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT AND A FINE OF
P500,000.00.
In the service of his sentence, accused who is a detention
prisoner shall be credited with the entire period during which he
3
had undergone preventive
imprisonment.
The drugs subject matter of this case is hereby forfeited in favor
of the government.1wphi1 The Branch Clerk of Court is hereby

directed to turn over the same to the Dangerous Drugs Board for
proper disposal thereof.
SO ORDERED.7
Ruling of the CA
Gonzales appealed, insisting that the RTC erred in finding him
guilty as charged despite the Prosecutions failure to prove his
guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Finding no error on the part of the RTC, however, the CA
affirmed the conviction of Gonzales,8 to wit:
The sale of illegal drugs having been established beyond
reasonable doubt, We are constrained to uphold petitioners
conviction. Evidently, the errors assigned and the arguments in
support thereof turn on the issue of credibility. It is an
entrenched rule that the matter of assigning values to
declarations on the witness stand is best and most competently
performed by the trial judge, who, unlike appellate magistrates,
can weigh such testimony in the light of the declarants
demeanor, conduct and attitude at the trial and is thereby placed
in a more competent position to discriminate between the true
and the false. There is nothing on record to justify the deviation
from this rule. Moreover, the allegation of appellant that his
constitutional right was violated cannot overcome the
presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties
enjoyed by the officers tasked to enforce the law. Unless there is
clear and convincing evidence that the members of the buy-bust
team were inspired by any improper motive or were not properly
performing their duty, their testimonies with respect to the
operation deserve full faith and credit.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED and the APPEALED
decision is AFFIRMED.
4
SO ORDERED.

Issues
Hence, Gonzales has appealed,9 still insisting that the
Prosecution did not prove his guilt for violation of Section 5,
Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 beyond reasonable doubt.10
Ruling
The appeal has merit.
To secure a conviction of the accused charged with the illegal
sale of dangerous drugs as defined and punished by Section 5,
Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, the State must establish the
concurrence of the following elements, namely: (a) that the
transaction or sale took place between the accused and the
poseur buyer; and (b) that the dangerous drugs subject of the
transaction or sale is presented in court as evidence of the
corpus delicti.11
Anent the second element, it is indispensable for the State to
establish that the dangerous drugs subject of the transaction or
sale and subsequently examined in the laboratory are the same
dangerous drugs presented in court as evidence. The identity of
the dangerous drugs is essential to proving the corpus delicti. 12
To achieve that end, Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165 and
Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of
Republic Act No. 9165 (IRR) define the procedures to be
followed by the apprehending officers in the seizure and custody
of the dangerous drugs.
Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165 relevantly provides:
Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized,
and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of
Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential
Chemicals,
5
Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. The
PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous

drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors


and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia
and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized and/or
surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of
the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation,
physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of
the accused or the person/s from whom such items were
confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a
representative from the media and the Department of Justice
(DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to
sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof;
xxxx
Similarly, Section 21(a), IRR of Republic Act No. 9165
pertinently states:
xxxx
(a) The apprehending office/team having initial custody and
control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in
the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such
items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or
counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of
Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be
required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy
thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph
shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is
served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of
the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case
of warrantless seizures; Provided, further that non-compliance
with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the
6
integrity and the evidentiary
value of the seized items are
properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not
render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said
items;

xxxx
These provisions obviously demand strict compliance, for only
by such strict compliance may be eliminated the grave mischiefs
of planting or substitution of evidence and the unlawful and
malicious prosecution of the weak and unwary that they are
intended to prevent. Such strict compliance is also consistent
with the doctrine that penal laws shall be construed strictly
against the Government and liberally in favor of the accused.13
The procedures underscore the value of establishing the chain of
custody vis--vis the dangerous drugs. The Prosecution does not
prove the violation of Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165 either
when the dangerous drugs are missing, or when there are
substantial gaps in the chain of custody of the seized dangerous
drugs that raise doubts about the authenticity of the evidence
presented in court.14 Accordingly, the Dangerous Drugs Board
(DDB) the policy-making and strategy-formulating body in
the planning and formulation of policies and programs on drug
prevention and control tasked to develop and adopt a
comprehensive, integrated, unified and balanced national drug
abuse prevention and control strategy15 has expressly defined
chain of custody involving the dangerous drugs and other
substances in the following terms in Section 1(b) of DDB
Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002,16 to wit:
b. "Chain of Custody" means the duly recorded authorized
movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals
or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of
each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the
forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for
destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized
item shall include the identity and signature of the person who
held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time
when such transfer 7of custody were made in the course of
safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final
disposition;

Given the high concern for the due recording of the authorized
movements and custody of the seized drugs or controlled
chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory
equipment, the presentation as evidence in court of the
dangerous drugs subject of and recovered during the illegal sale
is material in every prosecution for the illegal sale of dangerous
drugs.17 Without such dangerous drugs being presented as
evidence, the State does not establish the corpus delicti, which,
literally translated from Latin, refers to the body of the crime, or
the actual commission by someone of the particular offense
charged.18 Corpus delicti, as the Court puts it in People v.
Roluna,19 is:
xxx the body or substance of the crime and, in its primary sense,
refers to the fact that a crime has been actually committed. As
applied to a particular offense, it means the actual commission
by someone of the particular crime charged. The corpus delicti
is a compound fact made up of two (2) things, viz: the existence
of a certain act or result forming the basis of the criminal charge,
and the existence of a criminal agency as the cause of this act or
result.20
The first stage in the chain of custody is the marking of the
dangerous drugs or related items.1wphi1 Marking, which is the
affixing on the dangerous drugs or related items by the
apprehending officer or the poseur-buyer of his initials or
signature or other identifying signs, should be made in the
presence of the apprehended violator immediately upon arrest.
The importance of the prompt marking cannot be denied,
because succeeding handlers of the dangerous drugs or related
items will use the marking as reference. Also, the marking
operates to set apart as evidence the dangerous drugs or related
items from other material from the moment they are confiscated
until they are disposed of at the close of the criminal
proceedings, thereby
forestalling switching, planting, or
8
contamination of evidence.21 In short, the marking immediately
upon confiscation or recovery of the dangerous drugs or related

items is indispensable in the preservation of their integrity and


evidentiary value.
Although PO1 Dimla, the States lone witness, 22 testified that he
had marked the sachet of shabu with his own initials of "ED"
following Gonzales arrest,23 he did not explain, either in his
court testimony or in the joint affidavit of arrest, whether his
marking had been done in the presence of Gonzales, or done
immediately upon the arrest of Gonzales. Nor did he show by
testimony or otherwise who had taken custody of the sachet of
shabu after he had done his marking, and who had subsequently
brought the sachet of shabu to the police station, and, still later
on, to the laboratory. Given the possibility of just anyone
bringing any quantity of shabu to the laboratory for
examination, there is now no assurance that the quantity
presented here as evidence was the same article that had been
the subject of the sale by Gonzales. The indeterminateness of the
identities of the individuals who could have handled the sachet
of shabu after PO1 Dimlas marking broke the chain of custody,
and tainted the integrity of the shabu ultimately presented as
evidence to the trial court. We hardly need to reiterate that the
chain of custody, which Section 1(b) of DDB Regulation No. 1,
Series of 2002, supra, explicitly describes as "the duly recorded
authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled
chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory
equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation
to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to
presentation in court for destruction," demands such record of
movements and custody of seized items to include the identities
and signatures of the persons who held temporary custody of the
seized item, the dates and times when such transfers of custody
were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as
evidence, and the final disposition.
A further review of 9the records underscores that poseur-buyer
PO1Dimla nowhere recalled in court that he and PO2 Chua had
conducted the physical inventory and photographing of the
shabu subject of the sale by Gonzales. In fact, in their joint

affidavit of arrest,24 PO1 Dimla and PO2 Chua did not mention
any inventory and photographing. The omission can only mean
that no such inventory and photographing were done by them.
The omission of the inventory and photographing exposed
another weakness of the evidence of guilt, considering that the
inventory and photographing to be made in the presence of the
accused or his representative, or within the presence of any
representative from the media, Department of Justice or any
elected official, who must sign the inventory, or be given a copy
of the inventory, were really significant stages of the procedures
outlined by the law and its IRR.
By way of exception, Republic Act No. 9165 and its IRR both
state that the non-compliance with the procedures thereby
delineated and set would not necessarily invalidate the seizure
and custody of the dangerous drugs provided there were
justifiable grounds for the non-compliance, and provided that
the integrity of the evidence of the corpus delicti was preserved.
But the non-compliance with the procedures, to be excusable,
must have to be justified by the States agents themselves.
Considering that PO1 Dimla tendered no justification in court
for the non-compliance with the procedures, the exception did
not apply herein. The absolution of Gonzales should then
follow,25 for we cannot deny that the observance of the chain of
custody as defined by the law was the only assurance to him that
his incrimination for the very serious crime had been legitimate
and insulated from either invention or malice. In this
connection, the Court states that the unexplained noncompliance with the procedures for preserving the chain of
custody of the dangerous drugs has frequently caused the Court
to absolve those found guilty by the lower courts.26
WHEREFORE, we REVERSE the decision promulgated on
September 28, 2007 by the Court of Appeals; and ACQUIT
appellant ALBERTO10GONZALES y SANTOS, a.k.a. TAKYO,
due to the failure of the Prosecution to establish his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.

ACCORDINGLY, we DIRECT the immediate release from


detention of ALBERTO GONZALES y SANTOS, a.k.a.
TAKYO, unless he is detained for some other lawful cause.
The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ORDERED to
forthwith implement this decision, and to report his action
hereon to this Court within 10 days from receipt hereof.
No pronouncement on costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

11

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 158361

April 10, 2013

INTERNATIONAL HOTEL CORPORATION, Petitioner,


vs.
FRANCISCO B. JOAQUIN, JR. and RAFAEL SUAREZ,
Respondents.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
To avoid unjust enrichment to a party from resulting out of a
substantially performed contract, the principle of quantum
meruit may be used to determine his compensation in the
absence of a written agreement for that purpose. The principle of
quantum meruit justifies the payment of the reasonable value of
the services rendered by him.
The Case
Under review is the decision the Court of Appeals (CA)
promulgated on November 8, 2002,1 disposing:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision dated August
26, 1993 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 13, Manila in Civil
Case No. R-82-2434 is AFFIRMED with Modification as to the
amounts awarded as follows: defendant-appellant IHC is
ordered to pay plaintiff-appellant Joaquin P700,000.00 and
plaintiff-appellant Suarez P200,000.00, both to be paid in cash.
SO ORDERED.
Antecedents
On February 1, 1969, respondent Francisco B. Joaquin, Jr.
submitted a proposal to the Board of Directors of the
International Hotel Corporation (IHC) for him to render
technical assistance in securing a foreign loan for the

construction of a hotel, to be guaranteed by the Development


Bank of the Philippines (DBP).2 The proposal encompassed nine
phases, namely: (1) the preparation of a new project study; (2)
the settlement of the unregistered mortgage prior to the
submission of the application for guaranty for processing by
DBP; (3) the preparation of papers necessary to the application
for guaranty; (4) the securing of a foreign financier for the
project; (5) the securing of the approval of the DBP Board of
Governors; (6) the actual follow up of the application with
DBP3; (7) the overall coordination in implementing the
projections of the project study; (8) the preparation of the staff
for actual hotel operations; and (9) the actual hotel operations.4
The IHC Board of Directors approved phase one to phase six of
the proposal during the special board meeting on February 11,
1969, and earmarked P2,000,000.00 for the project.5 Anent the
financing, IHC applied with DBP for a foreign loan guaranty.
DBP processed the application,6 and approved it on October 24,
1969 subject to several conditions.7
On July 11, 1969, shortly after submitting the application to
DBP, Joaquin wrote to IHC to request the payment of his fees in
the amount of P500,000.00 for the services that he had provided
and would be providing to IHC in relation to the hotel project
that were outside the scope of the technical proposal. Joaquin
intimated his amenability to receive shares of stock instead of
cash in view of IHCs financial situation.8
On July 11, 1969, the stockholders of IHC met and granted
Joaquins request, allowing the payment for both Joaquin and
Rafael Suarez for their services in implementing the proposal.9
On June 20, 1970, Joaquin presented to the IHC Board of
Directors the results of his negotiations with potential foreign
financiers. He narrowed the financiers to Roger Dunn &
Company and Materials Handling Corporation. He
recommended that the Board of Directors consider Materials

Handling Corporation based on the more beneficial terms it had


offered. His recommendation was accepted.10
Negotiations with Materials Handling Corporation and, later on,
with its principal, Barnes International (Barnes), ensued. While
the negotiations with Barnes were ongoing, Joaquin and Jose
Valero, the Executive Director of IHC, met with another
financier, the Weston International Corporation (Weston), to
explore possible financing.11 When Barnes failed to deliver the
needed loan, IHC informed DBP that it would submit Weston
for DBPs consideration.12 As a result, DBP cancelled its
previous guaranty through a letter dated December 6, 1971.13
On December 13, 1971, IHC entered into an agreement with
Weston, and communicated this development to DBP on June
26, 1972. However, DBP denied the application for guaranty for
failure to comply with the conditions contained in its November
12, 1971 letter.14
Due to Joaquins failure to secure the needed loan, IHC, through
its President Bautista, canceled the 17,000 shares of stock
previously issued to Joaquin and Suarez as payment for their
services. The latter requested a reconsideration of the
cancellation, but their request was rejected.
Consequently, Joaquin and Suarez commenced this action for
specific performance, annulment, damages and injunction by a
complaint dated December 6, 1973 in the Regional Trial Court
in Manila (RTC), impleading IHC and the members of its Board
of Directors, namely, Felix Angelo Bautista, Sergio O. Rustia,
Ephraim G. Gochangco, Mario B. Julian, Benjamin J. Bautista,
Basilio L. Lirag, Danilo R. Lacerna and Hermenegildo R.
Reyes.15 The complaint alleged that the cancellation of the
shares had been illegal, and had deprived them of their right to
participate in the meetings and elections held by IHC; that
Barnes had been recommended by IHC President Bautista, not
by Joaquin; that they had failed to meet their obligation because
President Bautista and his son had intervened and negotiated

with Barnes instead of Weston; that DBP had canceled the


guaranty because Barnes had failed to release the loan; and that
IHC had agreed to compensate their services with 17,000 shares
of the common stock plus cash of P1,000,000.00.16
IHC, together with Felix Angelo Bautista, Sergio O. Rustia,
Mario B. Julian and Benjamin J. Bautista, filed an answer
claiming that the shares issued to Joaquin and Suarez as
compensation for their "past and future services" had been
issued in violation of Section 16 of the Corporation Code; that
Joaquin and Suarez had not provided a foreign financier
acceptable to DBP; and that they had already received
P96,350.00 as payment for their services.17
On their part, Lirag and Lacerna denied any knowledge of or
participation in the cancellation of the shares.18
Similarly, Gochangco and Reyes denied any knowledge of or
participation in the cancellation of the shares, and clarified that
they were not directors of IHC.19 In the course of the
proceedings, Reyes died and was substituted by Consorcia P.
Reyes, the administratrix of his estate.20
Ruling of the RTC
Under its decision rendered on August 26, 1993, the RTC held
IHC liable pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 1284 of
the Civil Code, disposing thusly:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the above facts, law and
jurisprudence, the Court hereby orders the defendant
International Hotel Corporation to pay plaintiff Francisco B.
Joaquin, the amount of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P200,000.00) and to pay plaintiff Rafael Suarez the amount of
Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00); that the said defendant IHC
likewise pay the co-plaintiffs, attorneys fees of P20,000.00, and
costs of suit.
IT IS SO ORDERED.21

The RTC found that Joaquin and Suarez had failed to meet their
obligations when IHC had chosen to negotiate with Barnes
rather than with Weston, the financier that Joaquin had
recommended; and that the cancellation of the shares of stock
had been proper under Section 68 of the Corporation Code,
which allowed such transfer of shares to compensate only past
services, not future ones.
Ruling of the CA
Both parties appealed.22
Joaquin and Suarez assigned the following errors, to wit:
DESPITE HAVING CORRECTLY ACKNOWLEDGED THAT
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS FULLY PERFORMED ALL
THAT WAS INCUMBENT UPON THEM, THE
HONORABLE JUDGE ERRED IN NOT ORDERING
THAT:
A.
DEFENDANTS
WERE
UNJUSTIFIED
IN
CANCELLING THE SHARES OF STOCK PREVIOUSLY
ISSUED TO PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS; AND
B. DEFENDANTS PAY PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS
TWO MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED PESOS (sic)
(P2,700,000.00),
INCLUDING
INTEREST
THEREON FROM 1973, REPRESENTING THE TOTAL
OBLIGATION DUE PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS.23
On the other hand, IHC attributed errors to the RTC, as follows:
I.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS
HAVE
NOTBEEN
COMPLETELY PAID FOR THEIR SERVICES, AND IN
ORDERING THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT TO PAY
TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P200,000.00)
AND FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) TO

PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS FRANCISCO B. JOAQUIN


AND RAFAEL SUAREZ, RESPECTIVELY.
II.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS ATTORNEYS FEES AND
COSTS OF SUIT.24
In its questioned decision promulgated on November 8, 2002,
the CA concurred with the RTC, upholding IHCs liability under
Article 1186 of the Civil Code. It ruled that in the context of
Article 1234 of the Civil Code, Joaquin had substantially
performed his obligations and had become entitled to be paid for
his services; and that the issuance of the shares of stock was
ultra vires for having been issued as consideration for future
services.
Anent how much was due to Joaquin and Suarez, the CA
explained thusly:
This Court does not subscribe to plaintiffs-appellants view that
defendant-appellant IHC agreed to pay them P2,000,000.00.
Plaintiff-appellant Joaquins letter to defendant-appellee F.A.
Bautista, quoting defendant-appellant IHCs board resolutions
which supposedly authorized the payment of such amount
cannot be sustained. The resolutions are quite clear and when
taken together show that said amount was only the "estimated
maximum expenses" which defendant-appellant IHC expected
to incur in accomplishing phases 1 to 6, not exclusively to
plaintiffs-appellants compensation.This conclusion finds
support in an unnumbered board resolution of defendantappellant IHC dated July 11, 1969:
"Incidentally, it was also taken up the necessity of giving the
Technical Group a portion of the compensation that was
authorized by this corporation in its Resolution of February 11,
1969 considering that the assistance so far given the corporation
by said Technical Group in continuing our project with the DBP

and its request for guaranty for a foreign loan is 70% completed
leaving only some details which are now being processed. It is
estimated that P400,000.00 worth of Common Stock would be
reasonable for the present accomplishments and to this effect,
the President is authorized to issue the same in the name of the
Technical Group, as follows:
P200,000.00 in common stock to Rafael Suarez, as associate in
the Technical Group, and P200,000.00 in common stock to
Francisco G. Joaquin, Jr., also a member of the Technical Group.
It is apparent that not all of the P2,000,000.00 was allocated
exclusively to compensate plaintiffs-appellants. Rather, it was
intended to fund the whole undertaking including their
compensation. On the same date, defendant-appellant IHC also
authorized its president to pay-appellant Joaquin P500,000.00
either in cash or in stock or both.
The amount awarded by the lower court was therefore less than
what defendant-appellant IHC agreed to pay plaintiffsappellants. While this Court cannot decree that the cancelled
shares be restored, for they are without a doubt null and void,
still and all, defendant-appellant IHC cannot now put up its own
ultra vires act as an excuse to escape obligation to plaintiffsappellants. Instead of shares of stock, defendant-appellant IHC
is ordered to pay plaintiff-appellant Joaquin a total of
P700,000.00 and plaintiff-appellant Suarez P200,000.00, both to
be paid in cash.
Although the lower court failed to explain why it was granting
the attorneys fees, this Court nonetheless finds its award proper
given defendant-appellant IHCs actions.25
Issues
In this appeal, the IHC raises as issues for our consideration and
resolution the following:
I

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS IS


CORRECT IN AWARDING COMPENSATION AND EVEN
MODIFYING
THE
PAYMENT
TO
HEREIN
RESPONDENTS DESPITE NON-FULFILLMENT OF
THEIR OBLIGATION TO HEREIN PETITIONER
II
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS IS
CORRECT IN AWARDING ATTORNEYS FEES TO
RESPONDENTS26
IHC maintains that Article 1186 of the Civil Code was
erroneously applied; that it had no intention of preventing
Joaquin from complying with his obligations when it adopted
his recommendation to negotiate with Barnes; that Article 1234
of the Civil Code applied only if there was a merely slight
deviation from the obligation, and the omission or defect was
technical and unimportant; that substantial compliance was
unacceptable because the foreign loan was material and was, in
fact, the ultimate goal of its contract with Joaquin and Suarez;
that because the obligation was indivisible and subject to a
suspensive condition, Article 1181 of the Civil Code27 applied,
under which a partial performance was equivalent to nonperformance; and that the award of attorneys fees should be
deleted for lack of legal and factual bases.
On the part of respondents, only Joaquin filed a comment, 28
arguing that the petition was fatally defective for raising
questions of fact; that the obligation was divisible and capable
of partial performance; and that the suspensive condition was
deemed fulfilled through IHCs own actions.29
Ruling
We deny the petition for review on certiorari subject to the
ensuing disquisitions.
1.

IHC raises questions of law


We first consider and resolve whether IHCs petition improperly
raised questions of fact.
A question of law exists when there is doubt as to what the law
is on a certain state of facts, but, in contrast, a question of fact
exists when the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity of the facts
alleged. A question of law does not involve an examination of
the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or
by any of them; the resolution of the issue must rest solely on
what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. 30 When
there is no dispute as to the facts, the question of whether or not
the conclusion drawn from the facts is correct is a question of
law.31
Considering that what IHC seeks to review is the CAs
application of the law on the facts presented therein, there is no
doubt that IHC raises questions of law. The basic issue posed
here is whether the conclusions drawn by the CA were correct
under the pertinent laws.
2.
Article 1186 and Article 1234 of the Civil Code cannot be the
source of IHCs obligation to pay respondents IHC argues that it
should not be held liable because: (a) it was Joaquin who had
recommended Barnes; and (b) IHCs negotiation with Barnes
had been neither intentional nor willfully intended to prevent
Joaquin from complying with his obligations.
IHCs argument is meritorious.
Article 1186 of the Civil Code reads:
Article 1186. The condition shall be deemed fulfilled when the
obligor voluntarily prevents its fulfillment.

This provision refers to the constructive fulfillment of a


suspensive condition,32 whose application calls for two
requisites, namely: (a) the intent of the obligor to prevent the
fulfillment of the condition, and (b) the actual prevention of the
fulfillment. Mere intention of the debtor to prevent the
happening of the condition, or to place ineffective obstacles to
its compliance, without actually preventing the fulfillment, is
insufficient.33
The error lies in the CAs failure to determine IHCs intent to
pre-empt Joaquin from meeting his obligations. The June 20,
1970 minutes of IHCs special board meeting discloses that
Joaquin impressed upon the members of the Board that
Materials Handling was offering more favorable terms for IHC,
to wit:
xxxx
At the meeting all the members of the Board of Directors of the
International Hotel Corporation were present with the exception
of Directors Benjamin J. Bautista and Sergio O. Rustia who
asked to be excused because of previous engagements. In that
meeting, the President called on Mr. Francisco G. Joaquin, Jr. to
explain the different negotiations he had conducted relative to
obtaining the needed financing for the hotel project in keeping
with the authority given to him in a resolution approved by the
Board of Directors.
Mr. Joaquin presently explained that he contacted several local
and foreign financiers through different brokers and after
examining the different offers he narrowed down his choice to
two (2), to wit: the foreign financier recommended by George
Wright of the Roger Dunn & Company and the offer made by
the Materials Handling Corporation.
After explaining the advantages and disadvantages to our
corporation of the two (2) offers specifically with regard to the
terms and repayment of the loan and the rate of interest
requested by them, he concluded that the offer made by the

Materials Handling Corporation is much more advantageous


because the terms and conditions of payment as well as the rate
of interest are much more reasonable and would be much less
onerous to our corporation. However, he explained that the
corporation accepted, in principle, the offer of Roger Dunn, per
the corporations telegrams to Mr. Rudolph Meir of the Private
Bank of Zurich, Switzerland, and until such time as the
corporations negotiations with Roger Dunn is terminated, we
are committed, on one way or the other, to their financing.
It was decided by the Directors that, should the negotiations
with Roger Dunn materialize, at the same time as the offer of
Materials Handling Corporation, that the funds committed by
Roger Dunn may be diverted to other borrowers of the
Development Bank of the Philippines. With this condition,
Director Joaquin showed the advantages of the offer of
Materials Handling Corporation. Mr. Joaquin also informed the
corporation that, as of this date, the bank confirmation of Roger
Dunn & Company has not been received. In view of the fact that
the corporation is racing against time in securing its financing,
he recommended that the corporation entertain other offers.
After a brief exchange of views on the part of the Directors
present and after hearing the clarification and explanation made
by Mr. C. M. Javier who was present and who represented the
Materials Handling Corporation, the Directors present approved
unanimously the recommendation of Mr. Joaquin to entertain
the offer of Materials Handling Corporation.34
Evidently, IHC only relied on the opinion of its consultant in
deciding to transact with Materials Handling and, later on, with
Barnes. In negotiating with Barnes, IHC had no intention,
willful or otherwise, to prevent Joaquin and Suarez from
meeting their undertaking. Such absence of any intention
negated the basis for the CAs reliance on Article 1186 of the
Civil Code.

Nor do we agree with the CAs upholding of IHCs liability by


virtue of Joaquin and Suarezs substantial performance. In so
ruling, the CA applied Article 1234 of the Civil Code, which
states:
Article 1234. If the obligation has been substantially performed
in good faith, the obligor may recover as though there had been
a strict and complete fulfillment, less damages suffered by the
obligee.
It is well to note that Article 1234 applies only when an obligor
admits breaching the contract35 after honestly and faithfully
performing all the material elements thereof except for some
technical aspects that cause no serious harm to the obligee. 36
IHC correctly submits that the provision refers to an omission or
deviation that is slight, or technical and unimportant, and does
not affect the real purpose of the contract.
Tolentino explains the character of the obligors breach under
Article 1234 in the following manner, to wit:
In order that there may be substantial performance of an
obligation, there must have been an attempt in good faith to
perform, without any willful or intentional departure therefrom.
The deviation from the obligation must be slight, and the
omission or defect must be technical and unimportant, and must
not pervade the whole or be so material that the object which the
parties intended to accomplish in a particular manner is not
attained. The non-performance of a material part of a contract
will prevent the performance from amounting to a substantial
compliance.
The party claiming substantial performance must show that he
has attempted in good faith to perform his contract, but has
through oversight, misunderstanding or any excusable neglect
failed to completely perform in certain negligible respects, for
which the other party may be adequately indemnified by an
allowance and deduction from the contract price or by an award
of damages. But a party who knowingly and wilfully fails to

perform his contract in any respect, or omits to perform a


material part of it, cannot be permitted, under the protection of
this rule, to compel the other party, and the trend of the more
recent decisions is to hold that the percentage of omitted or
irregular performance may in and of itself be sufficient to show
that there had not been a substantial performance.37
By reason of the inconsequential nature of the breach or
omission, the law deems the performance as substantial, making
it the obligees duty to pay.38 The compulsion of payment is
predicated on the substantial benefit derived by the obligee from
the partial performance. Although compelled to pay, the obligee
is nonetheless entitled to an allowance for the sum required to
remedy omissions or defects and to complete the work agreed
upon.39
Conversely, the principle of substantial performance is
inappropriate when the incomplete performance constitutes a
material breach of the contract. A contractual breach is material
if it will adversely affect the nature of the obligation that the
obligor promised to deliver, the benefits that the obligee expects
to receive after full compliance, and the extent that the nonperformance defeated the purposes of the contract. 40
Accordingly, for the principle embodied in Article 1234 to
apply, the failure of Joaquin and Suarez to comply with their
commitment should not defeat the ultimate purpose of the
contract.
The primary objective of the parties in entering into the services
agreement was to obtain a foreign loan to finance the
construction of IHCs hotel project. This objective could be
inferred from IHCs approval of phase 1 to phase 6 of the
proposal. Phase 1 and phase 2, respectively the preparation of a
new project study and the settlement of the unregistered
mortgage, would pave the way for Joaquin and Suarez to render
assistance to IHC in applying for the DBP guaranty and
thereafter to look for an able and willing foreign financial
institution acceptable to DBP. All the steps that Joaquin and

Suarez undertook to accomplish had a single objective to


secure a loan to fund the construction and eventual operations of
the hotel of IHC. In that regard, Joaquin himself admitted that
his assistance was specifically sought to seek financing for
IHCs hotel project.41
Needless to say, finding the foreign financier that DBP would
guarantee was the essence of the parties contract, so that the
failure to completely satisfy such obligation could not be
characterized as slight and unimportant as to have resulted in
Joaquin and Suarezs substantial performance that
consequentially benefitted IHC. Whatever benefits IHC gained
from their services could only be minimal, and were even
probably outweighed by whatever losses IHC suffered from the
delayed construction of its hotel. Consequently, Article 1234 did
not apply.
3.
IHC is nonetheless liable to pay under the rule on
constructive fulfillment of a mixed conditional obligation
Notwithstanding the inapplicability of Article 1186 and Article
1234 of the Civil Code, IHC was liable based on the nature of
the obligation.
Considering that the agreement between the parties was not
circumscribed by a definite period, its termination was subject to
a condition the happening of a future and uncertain event.42
The prevailing rule in conditional obligations is that the
acquisition of rights, as well as the extinguishment or loss of
those already acquired, shall depend upon the happening of the
event that constitutes the condition.43
To recall, both the RTC and the CA held that Joaquin and
Suarezs obligation was subject to the suspensive condition of
successfully securing a foreign loan guaranteed by DBP. IHC
agrees with both lower courts, and even argues that the
obligation with a suspensive condition did not arise when the

event or occurrence did not happen. In that instance, partial


performance of the contract subject to the suspensive condition
was tantamount to no performance at all. As such, the
respondents were not entitled to any compensation.
We have to disagree with IHCs argument.
To secure a DBP-guaranteed foreign loan did not solely depend
on the diligence or the sole will of the respondents because it
required the action and discretion of third persons an able and
willing foreign financial institution to provide the needed funds,
and the DBP Board of Governors to guarantee the loan. Such
third persons could not be legally compelled to act in a manner
favorable to IHC. There is no question that when the fulfillment
of a condition is dependent partly on the will of one of the
contracting parties,44 or of the obligor, and partly on chance,
hazard or the will of a third person, the obligation is mixed. 45
The existing rule in a mixed conditional obligation is that when
the condition was not fulfilled but the obligor did all in his
power to comply with the obligation, the condition should be
deemed satisfied.46
Considering that the respondents were able to secure an
agreement with Weston, and subsequently tried to reverse the
prior cancellation of the guaranty by DBP, we rule that they
thereby constructively fulfilled their obligation.
4.
Quantum meruit should apply in the absence of an express
agreement on the fees
The next issue to resolve is the amount of the fees that IHC
should pay to Joaquin and Suarez.
Joaquin claimed that aside from the approved P2,000,000.00 fee
to implement phase 1 to phase 6, the IHC Board of Directors
had approved an additional P500,000.00 as payment for his
services. The RTC declared that he and Suarez were entitled to

P200,000.00 each, but the CA revised the amounts to


P700,000.00 for Joaquin and P200,000.00 for Suarez.
Anent the P2,000,000.00, the CA rightly concluded that the full
amount of P2,000,000.00 could not be awarded to respondents
because such amount was not allocated exclusively to
compensate respondents, but was intended to be the estimated
maximum to fund the expenses in undertaking phase 6 of the
scope of services. Its conclusion was unquestionably borne out
by the minutes of the February 11, 1969 meeting, viz:
xxxx
II
The preparation of the necessary papers for the DBP including
the preparation of the application, the presentation of the
mechanics of financing, the actual follow up with the different
departments of the DBP which includes the explanation of the
feasibility studies up to the approval of the loan, conditioned on
the DBPs acceptance of the project as feasible. The estimated
expenses for this particular phase would be contingent, i.e. upon
DBPs approval of the plan now being studied and prepared, is
somewhere around P2,000,000.00.
After a brief discussion on the matter, the Board on motion duly
made and seconded, unanimously adopted a resolution of the
following tenor:
RESOLUTION NO. ______
(Series of 1969)
"RESOLVED, as it is hereby RESOLVED, that
if the Reparations allocation and the plan
being negotiated with the DBP is realized
the
estimated
maximum
expenses
of
P2,000,000.00 for this phase is hereby
authorized subject to the sound discretion
of the committee composed of Justice Felix
Angelo Bautista, Jose N. Valero and

Ephraim
supplied)

G.

Gochangco."47

(Emphasis

Joaquins claim for the additional sum of


P500,000.00 was similarly without factual
and legal bases. He had requested the
payment of that amount to cover services
rendered and still to be rendered to IHC
separately from those covered by the first
six phases of the scope of work. However,
there is no reason to hold IHC liable for
that amount due to his failure to present
sufficient proof of the services rendered
towards that end. Furthermore, his July
11, 1969 letter revealed that the
additional services that he had supposedly
rendered
were
identical
to
those
enumerated in the technical proposal,
thus:
The Board of Directors
International Hotel Corporation
Thru: Justice Felix Angelo Bautista
President & Chairman of the Board
Gentlemen:
I have the honor to request this Body for
its deliberation and action on the fees
for my services rendered and to be
rendered to the hotel project and to the
corporation. These fees are separate from
the fees you have approved in your
previous Board Resolution, since my fees
are separate. I realize the position of
the corporation at present, in that it is
not in a financial position to pay my
services in cash, therefore, I am
requesting this Body to consider payment
of my fees even in the form of shares of

stock, as you have done to the other


technical men and for other services
rendered to the corporation by other
people.
Inasmuch as my fees are contingent on the
successful implementation of this project,
I request that my fees be based on a
percentage of the total project cost. The
fees which I consider reasonable for the
services that I have rendered to the
project up to the completion of its
construction is P500,000.00. I believe
said amount is reasonable since this is
approximately only of 1% of the total
project cost.
So far, I have accomplished Phases 1-5 of
my report dated February 1, 1969 and which
you authorized us to do under Board
Resolution of February 11, 1969. It is
only Phase 6 which now remains to be
implemented.
For
my
appointment
as
Consultant dated May 12, 1969 and the
Board Resolution dated June 23, 1969
wherein I was appointed to the Technical
Committee, it now follows that I have been
also authorized to implement part of
Phases 7 & 8.
A brief summary of my accomplished work
has been as follows:
1. I have revised and made the new Project
Study of your hotel project, making it
bankable and feasible.
2. I have reduced the total cost of your
project by approximately P24,735,000.00.
3. I have seen to it that a registered
mortgage with the Reparations Commission

did not affect the application with the


IBP for approval to processing.
4. I have prepared the application papers
acceptable to the DBP by means of an
advance analysis and the presentation of
the
financial
mechanics,
which
was
accepted by the DBP.
5. I have presented the financial
mechanics of the loan wherein the
requirement of the DBP for an additional
P19,000,000.00
in
equity
from
the
corporation became unnecessary.
6. The explanation of the financial
mechanics and the justification of this
project was instrumental in changing the
original recommendation of the Investment
Banking Department of the DBP, which
recommended
disapproval
of
this
application, to the present recommendation
of the Real Estate Department which is for
the
approval
of
this
project
for
proceeding.
7. I have submitted to you several offers
already of foreign financiers which are in
your files. We are presently arranging the
said financiers to confirm their funds to
the DBP for our project,
8. We have secured the approval of the DBP
to process the loan application of this
corporation as per its letter July 2,
1969.
9. We have performed other services for
the
corporation
which
led
to
the
cooperation and understanding of the
different factions of this corporation.

I
have
rendered
services
to
your
corporation for the past 6 months with no
clear understanding as to the compensation
of my services. All I have drawn from the
corporation is the amount of P500.00 dated
May 12, 1969 and personal payment advanced
by Justice Felix Angelo Bautista in the
amount of P1,000.00.
I am, therefore, requesting this Body for
their approval of my fees. I have shown my
good faith and willingness to render
services to your corporation which is
evidenced by my continued services in the
past
6
months
as
well
as
the
accomplishments above mentioned. I believe
that the final completion of this hotel,
at least for the processing of the DBP up
to the completion of the construction,
will take approximately another 2 years.
In view of the above, I again reiterate my
request for your approval of my fees. When
the corporation is in a better financial
position, I will request for a withdrawal
of a monthly allowance, said amount to be
determined by this Body.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.)
Francisco G., Joaquin, Jr.48
(Emphasis supplied)
Joaquin could not even rest his claim on the approval by IHCs
Board of Directors. The approval apparently arose from the
confusion between the supposedly separate services that Joaquin
had rendered and those to be done under the technical proposal.
The minutes of the July 11, 1969 board meeting (when the
Board of Directors allowed the payment for Joaquins past
services and for the 70% project completion by the technical
group) showed as follows:

III
The Third order of business is the compensation of Mr.
Francisco G. Joaquin, Jr. for his services in the corporation.
After a brief discussion that ensued, upon motion duly made and
seconded, the stockholders unanimously approved a resolution
of the following tenor:
RESOLUTION NO. ___
(Series of 1969)
"RESOLVED that Mr. Francisco G. Joaquin,
Jr. be granted a compensation in the
amount
of
Five
Hundred
Thousand
(P500,000.00) Pesos for his past services
and services still to be rendered in the
future to the corporation up to the
completion of the Project.1wphi1 The
President is given full discretion to
discuss with Mr. Joaquin the manner of
payment of said compensation, authorizing
him to pay part in stock and part in
cash."
Incidentally, it was also taken up the necessity of giving the
Technical Group a portion of the compensation that was
authorized by this corporation in its Resolution of February 11,
1969 considering that the assistance so far given the corporation
by said Technical Group in continuing our project with the DBP
and its request for guaranty for a foreign loan is 70% completed
leaving only some details which are now being processed. It is
estimated that P400,000.00 worth of Common Stock would be
reasonable for the present accomplishments and to this effect,
the President is authorized to issue the same in the name of the
Technical Group, as follows:
P200,000.00 in Common Stock to Rafael Suarez, an associate in
the Technical Group, and P200,000.00 in Common stock to

Francisco G. Joaquin, Jr., also a member of the Technical


Group.49
Lastly, the amount purportedly included services still to be
rendered that supposedly extended until the completion of the
construction of the hotel. It is basic, however, that in obligations
to do, there can be no payment unless the obligation has been
completely rendered.50
It is notable that the confusion on the amounts of compensation
arose from the parties inability to agree on the fees that
respondents should receive. Considering the absence of an
agreement, and in view of respondents constructive fulfillment
of their obligation, the Court has to apply the principle of
quantum meruit in determining how much was still due and
owing to respondents. Under the principle of quantum meruit, a
contractor is allowed to recover the reasonable value of the
services rendered despite the lack of a written contract. 51 The
measure of recovery under the principle should relate to the
reasonable value of the services performed. 52 The principle
prevents undue enrichment based on the equitable postulate that
it is unjust for a person to retain any benefit without paying for
it. Being predicated on equity, the principle should only be
applied if no express contract was entered into, and no specific
statutory provision was applicable.53
Under the established circumstances, we deem the total amount
of P200,000.00 to be reasonable compensation for respondents
services under the principle of quantum meruit.
Finally, we sustain IHCs position that the grant of attorneys
fees lacked factual or legal basis. Attorneys fees are not
awarded every time a party prevails in a suit because of the
policy that no premium should be placed on the right to litigate.
There should be factual or legal support in the records before the
award of such fees is sustained. It is not enough justification for
the award simply because respondents were compelled to
protect their rights.54

ACCORDINGLY, the Court DENIES the petition for review on


certiorari; and AFFIRMS the decision of the Court of Appeals
promulgated on November 8, 2002 in C.A.-G.R. No. 47094
subject to the MODIFICATIONS that: (a) International Hotel
Corporation is ordered to. pay Francisco G. Joaquin, Jr. and
Rafael Suarez P100,000.00 each as compensation for their
services, and (b) the award of P20,000.00 as attorney's fees is
deleted.
No costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSMAIN
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

EN BANC
G.R. No. 203302

April 11, 2013

MAYOR EMMANUEL L. MALIKSI, Petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND HOMER T.
SAQUILAVAN, Respondents.
RESOLUTION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The Court hereby resolves the Extremely Urgent Motion for
Reconsideration tiled by petitioner Emmanuel L. Maliksi against
the Court's decision promulgated on March 12, 2013, dismissing
his petition for certiorari assailing the resolution dated
September 14, 2012 of the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) En Bane that sustained the declaration of
respondent Homer T. Saquilayan as the duly elected Mayor of
Imus, Cavite.
For clarity, we briefly restate the factual antecedents.
During the 2010 Elections, the Municipal Board of Canvassers
proclaimed Saquilayan the winner for the position of Mayor of
Imus, Cavite. Maliksi, the candidate who garnered the second
highest number of votes, brought an election protest in the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Imus, Cavite alleging that there
were irregularities in the counting of votes in 209 clustered
precincts. Subsequently, the RTC held a revision of the votes,
and, based on the results of the revision, declared Maliksi as the
duly elected Mayor of Imus commanding Saquilayan to cease
and desist from performing the functions of said office.
Saquilayan appealed to the COMELEC. In the meanwhile, the
RTC granted Maliksis motion for execution pending appeal,
and Maliksi was then installed as Mayor.

In resolving the appeal, the COMELEC First Division, without


giving notice to the parties, decided to recount the ballots
through the use of the printouts of the ballot images from the CF
cards. Thus, it issued an order dated March 28, 2012 requiring
Saquilayan to deposit the amount necessary to defray the
expenses for the decryption and printing of the ballot images.
Later, it issued another order dated April 17, 2012 for
Saquilayan to augment his cash deposit.
On August 15, 2012, the First Division issued a resolution
nullifying the RTCs decision and declaring Saquilayan as the
duly elected Mayor.1
Maliksi filed a motion for reconsideration, alleging that he had
been denied his right to due process because he had not been
notified of the decryption proceedings. He argued that the resort
to the printouts of the ballot images, which were secondary
evidence, had been unwarranted because there was no proof that
the integrity of the paper ballots had not been preserved.
On September 14, 2012, the COMELEC En Banc resolved to
deny Maliksis motion for reconsideration.2
Maliksi then came to the Court via petition for certiorari,
reiterating his objections to the decryption, printing, and
examination of the ballot images without prior notice to him,
and to the use of the printouts of the ballot images in the recount
proceedings conducted by the First Division.1wphi1
In the decision promulgated on March 12, 2013, the Court, by a
vote of 8-7, dismissed Maliksis petition for certiorari. The
Court concluded that Maliksi had not been denied due process
because: (a) he had received notices of the decryption, printing,
and examination of the ballot images by the First Division
referring to the orders of the First Division directing Saquilayan
to post and augment the cash deposits for the decryption and
printing of the ballot images; and (b) he had been able to raise
his objections to the decryption in his motion for
reconsideration. The Court then pronounced that the First

Division did not abuse its discretion in deciding to use the ballot
images instead of the paper ballots, explaining that the printouts
of the ballot images were not secondary images, but considered
original documents with the same evidentiary value as the
official ballots under the Rule on Electronic Evidence; and that
the First Divisions finding that the ballots and the ballot boxes
had been tampered had been fully established by the large
number of cases of double-shading discovered during the
revision.
In his Extremely Urgent Motion for Reconsideration, Maliksi
raises the following arguments, to wit:
I.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, THIS HONORABLE
SUPREME COURT EN BANC GRAVELY ERRED IN
DISMISSING THE INSTANT PETITION DESPITE A
CLEAR
VIOLATION
OF
PETITIONERS
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW
CONSIDERING THAT DECRYPTION, PRINTING AND
EXAMINATION OF THE DIGITAL IMAGES OF THE
BALLOTS, WHICH IS THE BASIS FOR THE
ASSAILED 14 SEPTEMBER 2012 RESOLUTION OF
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT, WHICH IN TURN
AFFIRMED THE 15 AUGUST 2012 RESOLUTION OF
THE COMELEC FIRST DIVISION, WERE DONE
INCONSPICUOUSLY UPON A MOTU PROPRIO
DIRECTIVE OF THE COMELEC FIRST DIVISION
SANS ANY NOTICE TO THE PETITIONER, AND FOR
THE FIRST TIME ON APPEAL.
II.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, THIS HONORABLE
SUPREME COURT EN BANC GRAVELY ERRED IN
UPHOLDING THE COMELEC FIRST DIVISIONS
RULING TO DISPENSE WITH THE PHYSICAL
BALLOTS AND RESORT TO THEIR DIGITAL IMAGES
NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE BALLOTS
ARE THE BEST AND MOST CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE

OF THE VOTERS WILL, AND THAT BALLOT


IMAGES CAN BE RESORTED TO ONLY IF THE
OFFICIAL BALLOTS ARE LOST OR THEIR
INTEGRITY WAS COMPROMISED AS DETERMINED BY
THE
RECOUNT/REVISION
COMMITTEE,
CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ARE WANTING IN THIS
CASE, AND IN FACT THE INTEGRITY OF THE
BALLOT BOXES AND ITS CONTENTS WAS
PRESERVED AND THE ISSUE OF TAMPERING WAS
ONLY BELATEDLY RAISED BY THE PRIVATE
RESPONDENT AFTER THE REVISION RESULTS
SHOWED THAT HE LOST.
III.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, IT IS THE HUMBLE
SUBMISSION OF THE PETITIONER-MOVANT THAT
THE 12 MARCH 2013 RESOLUTION ISSUED BY THE
HONORABLE SUPREME COURT EN BANC IS NULL
AND VOID AB INITIO AND THEREFORE OF NO
FORCE AND EFFECT, FOR HAVING BEEN
PROMULGATED
DESPITE
THE
ABSENCE
OF
HONORABLE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE JOSE
PORTUGAL PEREZ AT THE TIME OF THE
DELIBERATION AND VOTING ON THE 12 MARCH
2013 RESOLUTION IN THE INSTANT CASE.3
Maliksi insists: (a) that he had the right to be notified of every
incident of the proceedings and to be present at every stage
thereof; (b) that he was deprived of such rights when he was not
informed of the decryption, printing, and examination of the
ballot images by the First Division; (c) that the March 28, 2012
and April 17, 2012 orders of the First Division did not
sufficiently give him notice inasmuch as the orders did not state
the date, time, and venue of the decryption and printing of the
ballot images; and (d) that he was thus completely deprived of
the opportunity to participate in the decryption proceedings.
Maliksi contends that the First Divisions motu proprio directive
for the decryption, printing, and examination of the ballot

images was highly irregular. In this regard, he asserts: (a) that


the decryption, printing, and examination should have taken
place during the revision before the trial court and after the
revision committee had determined that the integrity of the
official ballots had not been preserved; (b) that the trial court did
not make such determination; (c) that, in fact, Saquilayan did
not allege or present any proof in the RTC to show that the
ballots or the ballot boxes had been tampered, and had, in fact,
actively participated in the revision proceedings; (d) that the
First Division should not have entertained the allegation of
ballot tampering belatedly raised on appeal; (e) that the First
Division should have limited itself to reviewing the evidence on
record; and (f) that the First Division did not even explain how it
had arrived at the conclusion that the integrity of the ballots had
not been preserved.
Maliksi submits that the decision promulgated on March 12,
2013 is null and void for having been promulgated despite the
absence from the deliberations and lack of signature of Justice
Jose Portugal Perez.
Ruling
The Court grants Maliksis Extremely Urgent Motion for
Reconsideration, and reverses the decision promulgated on
March 12, 2013 on the ground that the First Division of the
COMELEC denied to him the right to due process by failing to
give due notice on the decryption and printing of the ballot
images. Consequently, the Court annuls the recount proceedings
conducted by the First Division with the use of the printouts of
the ballot images.
It bears stressing at the outset that the First Division should not
have conducted the assailed recount proceedings because it was
then exercising appellate jurisdiction as to which no existing
rule of procedure allowed it to conduct a recount in the first
instance. The recount proceedings authorized under Section 6,
Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, as amended, are to

be conducted by the COMELEC Divisions only in the exercise


of their exclusive original jurisdiction over all election protests
involving elective regional (the autonomous regions), provincial
and city officials.4
As we see it, the First Division arbitrarily arrogated unto itself
the conduct of the recount proceedings, contrary to the regular
procedure of remanding the protest to the RTC and directing the
reconstitution of the Revision Committee for the decryption and
printing of the picture images and the revision of the ballots on
the basis thereof. Quite unexpectedly, the COMELEC En Banc
upheld the First Divisions unwarranted deviation from the
standard procedures by invoking the COMELECs power to
"take such measures as the Presiding Commissioner may deem
proper," and even citing the Courts minute resolution in
Alliance of Barangay Concerns (ABC) Party-List v.
Commission on Elections5 to the effect that the "COMELEC has
the power to adopt procedures that will ensure the speedy
resolution of its cases. The Court will not interfere with its
exercise of this prerogative so long as the parties are amply
heard on their opposing claims."
Based on the pronouncement in Alliance of Barangay Concerns
(ABC) v. Commission on Elections, the power of the
COMELEC to adopt procedures that will ensure the speedy
resolution of its cases should still be exercised only after giving
to all the parties the opportunity to be heard on their opposing
claims. The parties right to be heard upon adversarial issues and
matters is never to be waived or sacrificed, or to be treated so
lightly because of the possibility of the substantial prejudice to
be thereby caused to the parties, or to any of them. Thus, the
COMELEC En Banc should not have upheld the First Divisions
deviation from the regular procedure in the guise of speedily
resolving the election protest, in view of its failure to provide
the parties with notice of its proceedings and an opportunity to
be heard, the most basic requirements of due process.
I.

Due process requirements


The picture images of the ballots are electronic documents that
are regarded as the equivalents of the original official ballots
themselves.6 In Vinzons-Chato v. House of Representatives
Electoral Tribunal,7 the Court held that "the picture images of
the ballots, as scanned and recorded by the PCOS, are likewise
official ballots that faithfully capture in electronic form the
votes cast by the voter, as defined by Section 2(3) of R.A. No.
9369. As such, the printouts thereof are the functional equivalent
of the paper ballots filled out by the voters and, thus, may be
used for purposes of revision of votes in an electoral protest."
That the two documentsthe official ballot and its picture
imageare considered "original documents" simply means that
both of them are given equal probative weight. In short, when
either is presented as evidence, one is not considered as
weightier than the other.
But this juridical reality does not authorize the courts, the
COMELEC, and the Electoral Tribunals to quickly and
unilaterally resort to the printouts of the picture images of
the ballots in the proceedings had before them without
notice to the parties. Despite the equal probative weight
accorded to the official ballots and the printouts of their
picture images, the rules for the revision of ballots adopted
for their respective proceedings still consider the official
ballots to be the primary or best evidence of the voters will.
In that regard, the picture images of the ballots are to be
used only when it is first shown that the official ballots are
lost or their integrity has been compromised.
For instance, the aforesaid Section 6, Rule 15 of COMELEC
Resolution No. 8804 (In Re: Comelec Rules of Procedure on
Disputes In An Automated Election System in Connection with
the May 10, 2010 Elections), as amended by COMELEC
Resolution No. 9164, itself requires that "the Recount
Committee determines that the integrity of the ballots has been

violated or has not been preserved, or are wet and otherwise in


such a condition that (the ballots) cannot be recounted" before
the printing of the image of the ballots should be made, to wit:
xxxx
(g) Only when the Recount Committee, through its chairman,
determines that the integrity of the ballots has been preserved or
that no signs of tampering of the ballots are present, will the
recount proceed. In case there are signs that the ballots
contained therein are tampered, compromised, wet or are
otherwise in such a condition that it could not be recounted, the
Recount Committee shall follow paragraph (l) of this rule.
xxxx
(l) In the event the Recount Committee determines that the
integrity of the ballots has been violated or has not been
preserved, or are wet and otherwise in such a condition that it
cannot be recounted, the Chairman of the Committee shall
request from the Election Records and Statistics Department
(ERSD), the printing of the image of the ballots of the subject
precinct stored in the CF card used in the May 10, 2010
elections in the presence of the parties. Printing of the ballot
images shall proceed only upon prior authentication and
certification by a duly authorized personnel of the Election
Records and Statistics Department (ERSD) that the data or the
images to be printed are genuine and not substitutes. (Emphases
supplied.)
xxxx
Section 6, Rule 10 (Conduct of Revision) of the 2010 Rules of
Procedure for Municipal Election Contests, which governs the
proceedings in the Regional Trial Courts exercising original
jurisdiction over election protests, provides:
xxxx

(m) In the event that the revision committee determines that the
integrity of the ballots and the ballot box have not been
preserved, as when proof of tampering or substitution exists, it
shall proceed to instruct the printing of the picture image of the
ballots stored in the data storage device for the precinct. The
court shall provide a non-partisan technical person who shall
conduct the necessary authentication process to ensure that the
data or image stored is genuine and not a substitute. Only after
this determination can the printed picture image be used for the
recount. (Emphases supplied.)
xxxx
A similar procedure is found in the 2010 Rules of the
Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to wit:
Rule 43. Conduct of the revision. The revision of votes shall
be done through the use of appropriate PCOS machines or
manually and visually, as the Tribunal may determine, and
according to the following procedures:
xxxx
(q) In the event that the RC determines that the integrity of the
ballots and the ballot box was not preserved, as when there is
proof of tampering or substitution, it shall proceed to instruct the
printing of the picture image of the ballots of the subject
precinct stored in the data storage device for the same precinct.
The Tribunal may avail itself of the assistance of the
COMELEC for the service of a non-partisan technical person
who shall conduct the necessary authentication process to ensure
that the data or images stored are genuine and not merely
substitutes. It is only upon such determination that the printed
picture image can be used for the revision of votes. (Emphases
supplied.)
xxxx

Also, the House of Representative Electoral Tribunals


Guidelines on the Revision of Ballots requires a preliminary
hearing to be held for the purpose of determining whether the
integrity of the ballots and ballot boxes used in the May 10,
2010 elections was not preserved, as when there is proof of
tampering or substitutions, to wit:
Section 10. Revision of Ballots
xxxx
(d) When it has been shown, in a preliminary hearing set by the
parties or by the Tribunal, that the integrity of the ballots and
ballot boxes used in the May 10, 2010 elections was not
preserved, as when there is proof of tampering or substitutions,
the Tribunal shall direct the printing of the picture images of the
ballots of the subject precinct stored in the data storage device
for the same precinct. The Tribunal shall provide a non-partisan
technical person who shall conduct the necessary authentication
process to ensure that the data or image stored is genuine and
not a substitute. It is only upon such determination that the
printed picture image can be used for the revision. (As amended
per Resolution of February 10, 2011; Emphases supplied.)
xxxx
All the foregoing rules on revision of ballots stipulate that the
printing of the picture images of the ballots may be resorted to
only after the proper Revision/Recount Committee has first
determined that the integrity of the ballots and the ballot boxes
was not preserved.
The foregoing rules further require that the decryption of the
images stored in the CF cards and the printing of the decrypted
images take place during the revision or recount proceedings.
There is a good reason for thus fixing where and by whom the
decryption and the printing should be conducted. It is during the
revision or recount conducted by the Revision/Recount
Committee when the parties are allowed to be represented, with

their representatives witnessing the proceedings and timely


raising their objections in the course of the proceedings.
Moreover, whenever the Revision/Recount Committee makes
any determination that the ballots have been tampered and have
become unreliable, the parties are immediately made aware of
such determination.
When, as in the present case, it was not the Revision/Recount
Committee or the RTC exercising original jurisdiction over the
protest that made the finding that the ballots had been tampered,
but the First Division in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction,
the parties should have been given a formal notice thereof.
Maliksi was not immediately made aware of that crucial finding
because the First Division did not even issue any written
resolution stating its reasons for ordering the printing of the
picture images. The parties were formally notified that the First
Division had found that the ballots had been tampered only
when they received the resolution of August 15, 2012, whereby
the First Division nullified the decision of the RTC and declared
Saquilayan as the duly elected Mayor. Even so, the resolution of
the First Division to that effect was unusually mute about the
factual bases for the finding of ballot box tampering, and did not
also particularize how and why the First Division was
concluding that the integrity of the ballots had been
compromised. All that the First Division declared as justification
was a simple generalization of the same being apparent from the
allegations of ballot and ballot box tampering and upon
inspection of the ballot boxes, viz:
xxxx
The Commission (First Division) took into consideration the
allegations of ballot and ballot box tampering and upon
inspecting the ballot boxes, it is apparent that the integrity of the
ballots had been compromised so, to be able to best determine
the true will of the electorate, we decided to go over the digital
image of the appealed ballots.8 (Emphasis supplied)

xxxx
It was the COMELEC En Bancs assailed resolution of
September 14, 2012 that later on provided the explanation to
justify the First Divisions resort to the picture images of the
ballots, by observing that the "unprecedented number of doublevotes" exclusively affecting the position of Mayor and the votes
for Saquilayan had led to the belief that the ballots had been
tampered. However, that explanation by the COMELEC En
Banc did not cure the First Divisions lapse and did not erase the
irregularity that had already invalidated the First Divisions
proceedings.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Antonio T. Carpio advances the
view that the COMELECs finding of ballot tampering was a
mere surplusage because there was actually no need for such
finding before the ballots digital counterparts could be used. He
cites Section 3, Rule 16 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, as
amended by Resolution No. 9164, which states:
Section 3. Printing of Ballot Images. - In case the parties deem it
necessary, they may file a motion to be approved by the
Division of the Commission requesting for the printing of ballot
images in addition to those mentioned in the second paragraph
of item (e). Parties concerned shall provide the necessary
materials in the printing of images such as but not limited to
copying papers, toners and printers. Parties may also secure,
upon prior approval by the Division of the Commission, a soft
copy of the ballot images contained in a secured/hashed disc on
the condition that the ballot images be first printed, at the
expense of the requesting party, and that the printed copies be
signed by the parties respective revisors or representatives and
by an ERSD IT-capable representative and deposited with the
Commission.
The Over-all chairman shall coordinate with the Director IV,
Election Records and Statistics Department (ERSD), for the
printing of images. Said director shall in turn designate a

personnel who will be responsible in the printing of ballot


images.
Justice Carpio posits that when a party files a motion for the
printing of the ballots that he or she deems necessary, there is
actually no need for a finding of tampering of the ballots or the
ballot boxes before the COMELEC Division may grant the
motion. He states that a determination by the parties that the
printing is necessary under Section 3 is a ground separate from
Section 6(e), which in turn pertinently states that:
Section 6. Conduct of the Recount
xxxx
(e) Before the opening of the ballot box, the Recount Committee
shall note its condition as well as that of the locks or locking
mechanism and record the condition in the recount report. From
its observation, the Recount Committee must also make a
determination as to whether the integrity of the ballot box has
been preserved.
In the event that there are signs of tampering or if the ballot box
appears to have been compromised, the Recount Committee
shall still proceed to open the ballot box and make a physical
inventory of the contents thereof. The committee shall, however,
record its general observation of the ballots and other documents
found in the ballot box.
The application of Section 3 to this case is inappropriate,
considering that the First Division did not in any way suggest in
its decision dated August 15, 2010 that it was resolving
Saquilayans motion to print the ballot images. Instead, the First
Division made therein a finding of tampering, thus:
The COMELEC (First Division) took into consideration the
allegations of ballot and ballot box tampering and upon
inspecting the ballot boxes, it is apparent that the integrity of the
ballots had been compromised so, to be able to best determine

the true will of the electorate, we decided to go over the digital


images of the appealed ballots.
Even the COMELEC En Banc did not indicate in its decision
dated September 14, 2012 that the First Division merely
resolved Saquilayans motion for the printing of the ballot
images; instead, it reinforced the First Divisions finding that
there was tampering of the ballots. The non-mention of
Saquilayans motion was a clear indication of the COMELECs
intention to act motu proprio; and also revealed its interpretation
of its very own rules, that there must be justifiable reason, i.e.
tampering, before the ballot images could be resorted to.
The application of Section 3 would only highlight the First
Divisions denial of Maliksis right to due process. For, if the
First Division was really only acting on a motion to allow the
printing of the ballot images, there was a greater reason for the
First Division to have given the parties notice of its ruling
thereon. But, as herein noted, the First Division did not issue
such ruling.
To interpret Section 3 as granting to any one of the parties the
right to move for the printing of the ballot images should such
party deem it necessary, and the COMELEC may grant such
motion, is contrary to its clear wording. Section 3 explicitly
states: "in case the parties deem it necessary, they may file a
motion." The provision really envisions a situation in which
both parties have agreed that the ballot images should be
printed. Should only one of the parties move for the printing of
the ballot images, it is not Section 3 that applies but Section
6(e), which then requires a finding that the integrity of the
ballots has been compromised.
The disregard of Maliksis right to be informed of the decision
to print the picture images of the ballots and to conduct the
recount proceedings during the appellate stage cannot be
brushed aside by the invocation of the fact that Maliksi was able
to file, after all, a motion for reconsideration. To be exact, the

motion for reconsideration was actually directed against the


entire resolution of the First Division, while Maliksis claim of
due process violation is directed only against the First Divisions
recount proceedings that resulted in the prejudicial result
rendered against him. Notably, the First Division did not issue
any order directing the recount. Without the written order,
Maliksi was deprived of the chance to seek any reconsideration
or even to assail the irregularly-held recount through a
seasonable petition for certiorari in this Court. In that context, he
had no real opportunity to assail the conduct of the recount
proceedings.
The service of the First Division orders requiring Saquilayan to
post and augment the cash deposits for the printing of the
picture images did not sufficiently give Maliksi notice of the
First Divisions decision to print the picture images. The said
orders did not meet the requirements of due process because
they did not specifically inform Maliksi that the ballots had been
found to be tampered. Nor did the orders offer the factual bases
for the finding of tampering. Hence, to leave for Maliksi to
surmise on the factual bases for finding the need to print the
picture images still violated the principles of fair play, because
the responsibility and the obligation to lay down the factual
bases and to inform Maliksi as the party to be potentially
prejudiced thereby firmly rested on the shoulders of the First
Division.
Moreover, due process of law does not only require notice of the
decryption, printing, and recount proceedings to the parties, but
also demands an opportunity to be present at such proceedings
or to be represented therein. Maliksi correctly contends that the
orders of the First Division simply required Saquilayan to post
and augment his cash deposit. The orders did not state the time,
date, and venue of the decryption and recount proceedings.
Clearly, the First Division had no intention of giving the parties
the opportunity to witness its proceedings.

Mendoza v. Commission on Elections9 instructs that notice to


the parties and their participation are required during the
adversarial aspects of the proceedings. In that case, after the
revision of the ballots and after the election protest case was
submitted for decision, the ballots and ballot boxes were
transferred to the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) in connection
with a protest case pending in the SET. Mendoza later learned
that the COMELEC, with the permission of the SET, had
meanwhile conducted proceedings within the SETs premises.
Mendoza then claimed that his right to due process was violated
because he had not been given notice by the COMELEC that it
would be conducting further proceedings within the SET
premises. The Court did not sustain his claim, however, and
pointed out:
After consideration of the respondents Comments and the
petitioners petition and Reply, we hold that the contested
proceedings at the SET ("contested proceedings") are no longer
part of the adversarial aspects of the election contest that would
require notice of hearing and the participation of the parties. As
the COMELEC stated in its Comment and without any contrary
or disputing claim in the petitioners Reply:
"However, contrary to the claim of petitioner, public respondent
in the appreciation of the contested ballots in EPC No. 2007-44
simultaneously with the SET in SET Case No. 001-07 is not
conducting "further proceedings" requiring notice to the parties.
There is no revision or correction of the ballots because EPC
No. 2007-04 was already submitted for resolution. Public
respondent, in coordinating with the SET, is simply resolving
the submitted protest case before it. The parties necessarily take
no part in said deliberation, which require utmost secrecy.
Needless to state, the actual decision-making process is
supposed to be conducted only by the designated members of
the Second Division of the public respondent in strict
confidentiality."

In other words, what took place at the SET were the internal
deliberations of the COMELEC, as a quasi-judicial body, in the
course of appreciating the evidence presented and deciding the
provincial election contest on the merits. These deliberations are
no different from judicial deliberations which are considered
confidential and privileged. We find it significant that the private
respondents Comment fully supported the COMELECs
position and disavowed any participation in the contested
proceeding the petitioner complained about. The petitioner, on
the other hand, has not shown that the private respondent was
ever present in any proceeding at the SET relating to the
provincial election contest.1wphi1
To conclude, the rights to notice and to be heard are not material
considerations in the COMELECs handling of the Bulacan
provincial election contest after the transfer of the ballot boxes
to the SET; no proceedings at the instance of one party or of
COMELEC has been conducted at the SET that would require
notice and hearing because of the possibility of prejudice to the
other party. The COMELEC is under no legal obligation to
notify either party of the steps it is taking in the course of
deliberating on the merits of the provincial election contest. In
the context of our standard of review for the petition, we see no
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction committed by the COMELEC in its deliberation on
the Bulacan election contest and the appreciation of ballots this
deliberation entailed.10 (Emphasis supplied.)
Here, the First Division denominated the proceedings it had
conducted as an "appreciation of ballots" like in Mendoza. But
unlike in Mendoza, the proceedings conducted by the First
Division were adversarial, in that the proceedings included the
decryption and printing of the picture images of the ballots and
the recount of the votes were to be based on the printouts of the
picture images. The First Division did not simply review the
findings of the RTC and the Revision Committee, but actually
conducted its own recount proceedings using the printouts of the
picture image of the ballots. As such, the First Division was

bound to notify the parties to enable them to participate in the


proceedings.
Significantly, Section 6(l), Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution
No, 8804, as amended by COMELEC Resolution No. 9164,
requires the parties presence during the printing of the images
of the ballots, thus:
xxxx
(l) In the event the Recount Committee determines that the
integrity of the ballots has been violated or has not been
preserved, or are wet and otherwise in such a condition that it
cannot be recounted, the Chairman of the Committee shall
request from the Election Records and Statistics Department
(ERSD), the printing of the image of the ballots of the subject
precinct stored in the CF card used in the May 10, 2010
elections in the presence of the parties. Printing of the ballot
images shall proceed only upon prior authentication and
certification by a duly authorized personnel of the Election
Records and Statistics Department (ERSD) that the data or the
images to be printed are genuine and not substitutes.
xxxx
We should not ignore that the parties participation during the
revision and recount proceedings would not benefit only the
parties, but was as vital and significant for the COMELEC as
well, for only by their participation would the COMELECs
proceedings attain credibility as to the result. The parties
presence would have ensured that the requisite procedures have
been followed, including the required authentication and
certification that the images to be printed are genuine. In this
regard, the COMELEC was less than candid, and was even
cavalier in its conduct of the decryption and printing of the
picture images of the ballots and the recount proceedings. The
COMELEC was merely content with listing the guidelines that
the First Division had followed in the appreciation of the ballots
and the results of the recount. In short, there was vagueness as to

what rule had been followed in the decryption and printing


proceeding.
II.
Remand to the COMELEC
We are mindful of the urgent need to speedily resolve the
election protest because the term of the position involved is
about to end. Thus, we overlook pro hac vice the lack of factual
basis for the COMELECs decision to use the digital images of
the ballots and sustain its decision thereon. Although a remand
of the election protest to the RTC would have been the
appropriate procedure, we direct the COMELEC En Banc
instead to conduct the decryption and printing of the digital
images of the ballots and to hold recount proceedings, with due
notice to all the parties and opportunity for them to be present
and to participate during such proceedings. Nothing less serves
the ideal objective safeguarded by the Constitution.
In the absence of particular rules to govern its proceedings in
accordance with this disposition, the COMELEC is urged to
follow and observe Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No.
8804, as amended by COMELEC Resolution No. 9164.
The Court, by this resolution, does not intend to validate the
victory of any of the parties in the 2010 Elections. That is not
the concern of the Court as yet. The Court simply does not want
to countenance a denial of the fundamental right to due process,
a cornerstone of our legal system. 11 After all, it is the Courts
primary duty to protect the basic rights of the people vis--vis
government actions, thus:
It cannot be denied that most government actions are inspired
with noble intentions, all geared towards the betterment of the
nation and its people. But then again, it is important to
remember this ethical principle: "The end does not justify the
means." No matter how noble and worthy of admiration the
purpose of an act, but if the means to be employed in

accomplishing it is simply irreconcilable with constitutional


parameters, then it cannot still be allowed. The Court cannot just
turn a blind eye and simply let it pass. It will continue to uphold
the Constitution and its enshrined principles.12
WHEREFORE, the Court PARTIALLY GRANTS the
Extremely Urgent Motion for Reconsideration of petitioner
Emmanuel Maliksi; REVERSES the Court's decision
promulgated on March 12, 2013; and DIRECTS the
Commission on Elections En Bane to conduct proceedings for
the decryption of the picture images of the ballots involved in
the protest after due authentication, and for the recount of
ballots by using the printouts of the ballot images, with notice to
and in the presence of the parties or their representatives in
accordance with the procedure laid down by Rule 15 of
COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, as amended by Resolution
No. 9164.
No pronouncement on costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

A.M. No. RTJ-10-2217

April 8, 2013

SONIA C. DECENA and REY C. DECENA, Petitioners,


vs.
JUDGE NILO A. MALANYAON, REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT, BRANCH 32, IN PILI, CAMARINES SUR,
Respondent.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
A judge may not involve himself in any activity that is an aspect
of the private practice of law. His acceptance of an appointment
to the Bench inhibits him from engaging in the private practice
of law, regardless of the beneficiary of the activity being a
member of his immediate family. He is guilty of conduct
unbecoming of a judge otherwise.
Antecedents
The complainants have lodged an administrative complaint for
conduct unbecoming a judge against Hon. Nilo A. Malanyaon,
the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 32, in
Pili, Camarines Sur.1
In their joint complaint-affidavit dated April 10, 2007,2 the
complainants averred that complainant Rey C. Decena had
brought an administrative case in Regional Office No. V of the
Civil Service Commission in Legaspi City, Albay against Judge
Malanyaons wife, Dr. Amelita C. Malanyaon (Dr. Amelita),
then the Assistant Provincial Health Officer of the Province of
Camarines Sur; that during the hearing of the administrative
case on May 4, 2006, Judge Malanyaon sat beside his daughter,
Atty. Ma. Kristina C. Malanyaon, the counsel of Dr. Amelita in
the case; and that the events that then transpired were as
recounted in the joint complaint-affidavit, to wit:

3. During the early stage of the hearing when the hearing officer,
Atty. Dennis Masinas Nieves, brought up the matter regarding
Dr. Malanyaons manifestation or motion (to dismiss the case
for lack of jurisdiction), Judge Malanyaon coached her daughter
in making manifestations/motions before the hearing officer, by
scribbling on some piece of paper and giving the same to the
former, thus prompting her daughter to rise from her seat and/or
ask permission from the officer to speak, and then make some
manifestations while reading or glancing on the paper given by
Judge Malanyaon. At one point, Judge Malanyaon even
prompted her daughter to demand that Atty. Eduardo Loria, the
collaborating counsel of our principal counsel, Atty. Mary
Ailyne Zamora, be required to produce his PTR number.
4. When our principal counsel, Atty. Zamora, arrived and took
over from Atty. Loria, she inquired regarding the personality of
Judge Malanyaon, being seated at the lawyers bench beside
Atty. Malanyaon, Judge Malanyaon then proudly introduced
himself and manifested that he was the "counsel of the
respondents counsel". Atty. Zamora proceeded to raise the
propriety of Judge Malanyaons sitting with and assisting his
daughter in that hearing, being a member of the judiciary, to
which Judge Malanyaon loudly retorted that he be shown any
particular rule that prohibits him from sitting with his daughter
at the lawyers bench. He insisted that he was merely "assisting"
her daughter, who "just passed the bar", defend the respondent,
and was likewise helping the latter defend herself. Pertinent
portion of the records of the proceedings are as follows:
xxxx
Atty. Nieves : First, she has to enter her appearance. Okay?
Atty. Zamora : Anyway, I dont think, I do not memorize my
PTR number, I dont remember my PTR number, but aside from
that Your Honor, I think this Honorable Hearing Officer could
take judicial notice that Atty. Ed Loria is indeed a lawyer in
good standing in IBP. And moreover, Your Honor, I would like

to inquire as to the personality of the gentleman next to the


lawyer of the defendant or respondent, Your Honor?
Judge Malanyaon: I am the counsel of the complainant, ah, of
the respondents counsel, I am Judge Malanyaon. I am assisting
her. And so what?!!
Atty. Zamora : Ah, you are the counsel of the (interrupted)
Atty. Nieves : Theres no need to be belligerent lets calm
down
Atty. Zamora : Your Honor, Your Honor, we all do not know
each other, and with due respect to the judge, there is also a
hearing officer here Your Honor, and I think Your Honor the
Hearing Officer here deserves due respect. I mean, the word "So
what?!", I dont think that would be proper Your Honor in this
Court.
Judge Malanyaon : I am sorry your Honor, because the is out
of turn, out of turn.
Atty. Nieves : This is not necessary, actually, this is not
necessary. So we might as well proceed with our hearing today.
Ive already made a ruling regarding the, the query regarding
PTR. Okay, at this stage it is not proper considering that Atty.
Loria only entered his appearance during the start of the hearing.
Okay. So, we have to proceed now.
Atty. Zamora : I am accepting Your Honor the delegation again
of Atty. Loria. I am entering my appearance as the lead counsel
for this case, Your Honor, as counsel for the complainant.
Atty. Nieves : Okay.
Atty. Zamora : And may I be clear that the judge will be the
collaborating counsel for the respondent or the counsel of record
of the respondent?
Atty. Nieves : of the judge is Im sorry?

Atty. Zamora : He manifested Your Honor that he is the counsel


of the respondent.
Atty. Malanyaon : No, the counsel of the counsel of the
respondent.
Atty. Nieves : He has not, he has not entered his appearance in
this case.
Atty. Zamora : Would that be proper for him Your Honor,
considering that he is a judge Your Honor? Would that, ah, there
will be undue influence, or whatever, Your Honor? We are just
trying to avoid any bias or undue influence in this court, Your
Honor.
Atty. Nieves : Okay, it will not, considering the fact that he has
not entered his appearance for the respondent.
Judge Malanyaon : If Your Honor, please, the respondent is my
wife. Counsel for the respondent is my daughter. She just passed
the bar! Im assisting her. Is it not my right, my duty to assist my
daughter? And to assist my wife defend herself? I am only
sitting with my daughter! Im not acting for the respondent!
Atty. Zamora : I dont think Your Honor under the rule, the
counsel needs a counsel. Only the one charged or the one being
charged needs a counsel.
Atty. Nieves : Okay, lets settle this now. Judge Malanyaon has
not entered his appearance. It will not in any way
xxxx
The complainants averred that the actuations of Judge
Malanyaon during the hearing of his wifes administrative case
in the Civil Service Commission constituted violations of the
New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippines Judiciary.
On June 21, 2007, then Court Administrator Christopher O.
Lock required Judge Malanyaon to comment on the complaint.3

On July 15, 2007, Judge Malanyaon filed his comment, refuting


the allegations of the complaint thusly:
1. Complainants are the sister and nephew of my wife, Amelita
C. Malanyaon, there is bad blood between them arising from
divergent political loyalties and family differences;
2. There is no reason for complainants to take offense at my
sitting beside my daughter Ma. Kristina, when she appeared for
my wife in the first hearing of the administrative case Rey C.
Decena filed against my wife; the hearing officer himself could
cite no rule disallowing me from sitting beside my daughter, in
the counsels table, and he did not ask me to vacate where I sat
beside my daughter; the transcript does not support
complainants claim;
3. It is true I snapped at Atty. Zamora, when she asked about my
personality but she was speaking out of turn as all I was doing
was sitting beside my daughter when she came as the transcript
will show, I apologized to the hearing officer, who graciously let
the matter pass;
4. My daughter is a new practitioner; her law partner and lead
counsel could not make it on time, and as her consultant, I did
not speak, nor enter my appearance for my wife to lend a
helping hand to a neophyte lawyer, defending her mother in an
administrative case, is not unethical, nor does it constitute the
proscribed practice of law;
5. It is petty for my sister-in-law and for my nephew to complain
of my presence during the hearing; it is my filial duty to lend my
wife and daughter, moral and legal support in their time of need;
indeed, it is strange for complainants to take offense at my
presence and accuse me of practicing law during my stint as a
judge when before the bad blood between my wife and her
sibling and nephew erupted, I helped them out with their legal
problems gratis et amore and they did not complain of my
practicing law on their behalf, indeed, one of the crosses a judge
must carry is the cross of base ingratitude.4

On March 27, 2008, then Court Administrator Zenaida N.


Elepao recommended to the Court that: (a) the complaint be redocketed as a regular administrative matter; (b) Judge
Malanyaon be found guilty of gross misconduct; and (c) Judge
Malanyaon be fined P50,000.00.5
On September 16, 2009, the Court required the parties to
manifest within 10 days from notice if they were willing to
submit the case for resolution on the basis of the records or
pleadings filed.6
The complainants complied on November 13, 2009, stating their
willingness to submit the case for resolution after a formal
investigation or hearing was conducted, and after they were
given time to file their respective position papers or
memoranda.7
On January 11, 2010, the Court resolved: (a) to re-docket the
administrative case as a regular administrative matter; (b) to
await Judge Malanyaons compliance with the September 16,
2009 resolution; and (c) to refer the administrative matter to the
OCA for evaluation, report and recommendation.8
After Judge Malanyaon did not submit any compliance with the
September 16, 2009 resolution, the Court ordered him on
February 10, 2010 to show cause why he should not be
disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for such failure, and
further directed him to still comply with the resolution.9
On February 15, 2010, Judge Malanyaons counsel informed the
Court that Judge Malanyaon had meanwhile suffered a massive
stroke on September 2, 2009 that had affected his mental
faculties and made him unfit to defend himself here; and prayed
for the suspension of the proceedings until Judge Malanyaon
would have been found competent to comprehend and stand the
rigors of the investigation.10
On April 12, 2010, the Court deferred action on the case, and
required Judge Malanyaon to submit a medical certificate. 11

Judge Malanyaon submitted a medical certificate dated May 27,


2010, issued by the Philippine General Hospital, certifying that
he had been confined thereaft from September 2, 2009 to
October 19, 2009 for the following reason, to wit:
Cerebro Vascular disease, Hypertension Intra Cerebral
Hematoma Left Thalamus with obstructive Hydrocephalus; DM
type II, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease; Pneumonia;
lleus (resolved); Neurogenic bladder, Benign Prostatic
Hypertrophy; Graves disease; Arthritis.
OPERATION PERFORMED:
Bilateral tube ventriculostomy12
Judge Malanyaon submitted two more medical certificates, the
first dated October 5, 2010,13 certifying that, among others, he
was undergoing regular check-up, and the other, dated January
24, 2011,14 certifying that his functional and mental status had
been assessed as follows:
The severity and location of the hemorrage in the brain resulted
in residual epoliptogenic focus (Post-gliotic seizures) and
significant impairment of cognition, memory judgment behavior
(Vascular Dementia). He has problems with memory recall,
analysis of information, events and situations which may make
defending himself difficult, if necessary. Although he is
independent on ambulation, he requires assistance even in basic
activities of daily living.15
The Court required the complainants to comment on Judge
Malanyaons medical certification dated October 5, 2010.
On July 18, 2011, however, Dr. Amelita submitted a
manifestation and urgent motion to dismiss, seeking the
dismissal of the administrative case against Judge Malanyaon
upon the following grounds, to wit:
xxxx

2. Unfortunately, in a "Medical Certification" dated June 15,


2011 the original of which is attached hereto as Annex "1", the
attending neurologist of my husband has pronounced him
permanently mentally impaired. x x x.
xxxx
3. As a consequence, my husband has permanently lost the
capacity to understand the nature and object of the
administrative proceedings against him. He cannot intelligently
appoint his counsel or communicate coherently with him. He
cannot testify in his own behalf, and confront and cross-examine
opposing witnesses. Indeed, he cannot properly avail himself of
his rights in an adversarial administrative investigation;
4. Given the progressive mental impairment afflicting my
husband, he has permanently lost the capacity to defend himself.
Thus, to continue the administrative investigation against my
husband who is no longer in any position to defend himself
would constitute a denial of his right to be heard (Baikong
Akang Camsa vs. Judge Aurelio Rendon, A.M. No. MTJ-021395 dated 19 February 2002).16
Even so, on September 26, 2011, we required the complainants
to comment on the manifestation and motion of Dr. Amelita.17
Subsequently, Dr. Amelita submitted another motion dated
January 23, 2012,18 praying for the dismissal of the case against
Judge Malanyaon.
On February 6, 2012, Court Administrator Jose Midas P.
Marquez reiterated the recommendation made on March 27,
2008 by then Court Administrator Elepao by recommending
that: (a) the administrative case be re-docketed as a regular
administrative matter; and (b) Judge Malanyaon be found guilty
of gross misconduct and fined P50,000.00.19
On May 3, 2012, the Court received the complainants
compliance dated February 1, 2012,20 as their response to the

show cause order issued in relation to their failure to submit the


comment the Court had required on September 26, 2011.21
On September 4, 2012, the Court received from Dr. Amelita an
urgent ex parte motion for immediate resolution, praying that
the motion to dismiss dated July 18, 2011 be already resolved.22
Issues
For consideration and resolution are the following issues,
namely: (a) whether or not Judge Malanyaon would be denied
due process if the administrative case was not dismissed; (b)
whether the actuations of Judge Malanyaon complained of
constituted conduct unbecoming of a judge; and (c) if Judge
Malanyaon was guilty of conduct unbecoming of a judge, what
should be the correct sanction.
Ruling
We now discuss and resolve the issues accordingly.
1.
Respondents right to due process
is not violated by resolution of the case
In her manifestation with urgent motion to dismiss, 23 Dr.
Amelita stressed that proceeding against Judge Malanyaon
despite his present medical state would violate his right to due
process. She stated:
3. As a consequence, my husband has permanently lost the
capacity to understand the nature and object of the
administrative proceedings against him. He cannot intelligently
appoint his counsel or communicate coherently with him. He
cannot testify in his own behalf, and confront and cross-examine
opposing witnesses. Indeed, he cannot properly avail himself of
his rights in an adversarial administrative investigation.24

Opposing, the complainants argued that Dr. Amelitas concern


was unfounded considering that Judge Malanyaon had not only
been given the opportunity to be heard, but had been actually
heard on their complaint.
The complainants argument is well taken.
On August 3, 2007, or prior to his suffering the massive stroke
that impaired his mental faculty, Judge Malanyaon already
submitted his comment containing his explanations and
refutations of the charge against him. His comment asserted that
during the hearing of the administrative case of his wife in the
Regional Office of the Civil Service Commission, the hearing
officer did not even cite any rule that prohibited him from sitting
beside his daughter who was then acting as the counsel of Dr.
Amelita therein, or that inhibited him from assisting his
daughter in the defense of his wife. He pointed out that although
he had then lost his temper after the opposing counsel had
inquired about his personality in that hearing, he had ultimately
apologized to the hearing officer, who had in turn graciously let
the matter pass.
Under the circumstances, Judge Malanyaon was accorded due
process. In administrative cases, the requirement of due process
is satisfied whenever the parties are afforded the fair and
reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy,25
either through oral arguments or through pleadings. 26 That is
what happened herein. Accordingly, Dr. Amelitas motion was
bereft of basis, and should be denied.
2.
Actuations of Judge Malanyaon
rendered him guilty of
conduct unbecoming of a judge

The following actuations of Judge Malanyaon constituted


conduct unbecoming of a judge.
First was Judge Malanyaons occupying a seat beside his
daughter that was reserved for the lawyers during the hearing.
Such act displayed his presumptuousness, and probably even his
clear intention to thereby exert his influence as a judge of the
Regional Trial Court on the hearing officer in order for the latter
to favor his wifes cause. That impression was definitely adverse
against the Judiciary, whose every judicial officer was presumed
to be a subject of strict scrutiny by the public. Being an
incumbent RTC Judge, he always represented the Judiciary, and
should have acted with greater circumspection and self-restraint,
simply because the administrative hearing was unavoidably one
in which he could not but be partisan. Simple prudence should
have counselled him to avoid any form of suspicion of his
motives, or to suppress any impression of impropriety on his
part as an RTC judge by not going to the hearing himself.
Second was Judge Malanyaons admission that his presence in
that hearing was to advise his daughter on what to do and say
during the hearing, to the point of coaching his daughter. In the
process, he unabashedly introduced himself as the "counsel of
the respondents counsel" upon his presence being challenged by
the adverse counsel, stating that his daughter was still
inexperienced for having just passed her Bar Examinations.
Such excuse, seemingly grounded on a "filial" duty towards his
wife and his daughter, did not furnish enough reason for him to
forsake the ethical conduct expected of him as a sitting judge.
He ought to have restrained himself from sitting at that hearing,
being all too aware that his sitting would have him cross the line
beyond which was the private practice of law.
Section 3527 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court expressly
prohibits sitting judges like Judge Malanyaon from engaging in
the private practice of law or giving professional advice to
clients. Section 11,28 Canon 4 (Propriety),29 of the New Code of
Judicial Conduct and Rule 5.0730 of the Code of Judicial

Conduct reiterate the prohibition from engaging in the private


practice of law or giving professional advice to clients. The
prohibition is based on sound reasons of public policy,
considering that the rights, duties, privileges and functions of
the office of an attorney are inherently incompatible with the
high official functions, duties, powers, discretion and privileges
of a sitting judge. It also aims to ensure that judges give their
full time and attention to their judicial duties, prevent them from
extending favors to their own private interests, and assure the
public of their impartiality in the performance of their functions.
These objectives are dictated by a sense of moral decency and
desire to promote the public interest.31
Thus, an attorney who accepts an appointment to the Bench
must accept that his right to practice law as a member of the
Philippine Bar is thereby suspended, and it shall continue to be
so suspended for the entire period of his incumbency as a judge.
The term practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in
court or to participation in court proceedings, but extends to the
preparation of pleadings or papers in anticipation of a litigation,
the giving of legal advice to clients or persons needing the same,
the preparation of legal instruments and contracts by which legal
rights are secured, and the preparation of papers incident to
actions and special proceedings.32
To the Court, then, Judge Malanyaon engaged in the private
practice of law by assisting his daughter at his wifes
administrative case, coaching his daughter in making
manifestations or posing motions to the hearing officer, and
preparing the questions that he prompted to his daughter in order
to demand that Atty. Eduardo Loria, collaborating counsel of the
complainants principal counsel, should produce his privilege
tax receipt. Judge Malanyaon did so voluntarily and knowingly,
in light of his unhesitating announcement during the hearing that
he was the counsel for Atty. Katrina Malanyaon, the counsel of
the respondent, as his response to the query by the opposing
counsel why he was seated next to Atty. Malanyaon thereat.

Third was Judge Malanyaons admission that he had already


engaged in the private practice of law even before the incident
now the subject of this case by his statement in his comment that
"it is strange for complainants to take offense at my presence
and accuse me of practicing law during my stint as a judge when
before the bad blood between my wife and her sibling and
nephew erupted, I helped them out with their legal problems
gratis et amore and they did not complain of my practicing law
on their behalf."33 He thereby manifested his tendencies to
disregard the prohibition against the private practice of law
during his incumbency on the Bench.
Any propensity on the part of a magistrate to ignore the ethical
injunction to conduct himself in a manner that would give no
ground for reproach is always worthy of condemnation. 34 We
should abhor any impropriety on the part of judges, whether
committed in or out of their courthouses, for they are not judges
only occasionally. The Court has fittingly emphasized in Castillo
v. Calanog, Jr.:35
The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of a
judge must be free of a whiff of impropriety not only with
respect to his performance of his judicial duties, but also to his
behavior outside his sala and as a private individual. There is no
dichotomy of morality; a public official is also judged by his
private morals. The Code dictates that a judge, in order to
promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of
the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times. As we
have very recently explained, a judges official life cannot
simply be detached or separated from his personal existence.
Thus:
Being a subject of constant public scrutiny, a judge should freely
and willingly accept restrictions on conduct that might be
viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen.
A judge should personify judicial integrity and exemplify honest
public service. The personal behavior of a judge, both in the

performance of official duties and in private life should be


above suspicion.
Fourth was Judge Malanyaons display of arrogance during the
hearing, as reflected by his reaction to the opposing counsels
query on his personality to sit at the counsel table at the hearing,
to wit:
I am the counsel of the complainant, ah, of the respondents
counsel, I am Judge Malanyaon. I am assisting her. And so
what?!!
Judge Malanyaons uttering "And so what?" towards the
opposing counsel evinced his instant resentment towards the
adverse parties counsel for rightly challenging his right to be
sitting on a place reserved for counsel of the parties. The
utterance, for being made in an arrogant tone just after he had
introduced himself as a judge, was unbecoming of the judge that
he was, and tainted the good image of the Judiciary that he
should uphold at all times.36 It is true that the challenge of the
opposing counsel might have slighted him, but that was not
enough to cause him to forget that he was still a judge expected
to act with utmost sobriety and to speak with self-restraint. He
thereby ignored the presence of the hearing officer, appearing to
project that he could forsake the decorum that the time and the
occasion rightly called for from him and the others just because
he was a judge and the other side was not. He should not forget
that a judge like himself should be the last person to be
perceived by others as a petty and sharp-tongued tyrant.
Judge Malanyaon has insisted that his actuations were excused
by his filial obligation to assist his daughter, then only a
neophyte in the Legal Profession. We would easily understand
his insistence in the light of our culture to be always solicitous
of the wellbeing of our family members and other close kin,
even risking our own safety and lives in their defense. But the
situation of Judge Malanyaon was different, for he was a judicial
officer who came under the stricture that uniformly applied to

all judges of all levels of the judicial hierarchy, forbidding him


from engaging in the private practice of law during his
incumbency, regardless of whether the beneficiary was his wife
or daughter or other members of his own family.
3.
What is the proper penalty?
Judge Malanyaon had been previously sanctioned by the Court
on the following three occasions, namely: (a) A.M. No. RTJ-931090, with admonition for gross ignorance of the law and
unreasonable delay in resolving motions;37 (b) A.M. No. RTJ99-1444, with reprimand for failure to resolve motions;38 and (c)
A.M. No. RTJ-02-1669, with a fine of P20,000.00 (coupled with
a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act would
be dealt with more severely) for conduct unbecoming of a
judge.39 He had other administrative cases that were dismissed. 40
Of the three administrative cases that merited sanctions,
however, only the third should be considered as aggravating
herein because it involved the similar offense of conduct
unbecoming of a judge for which he had been given the stern
warning of a more severe penalty upon a repetition.
However, our uniform treatment of administrative sanctions as
having the nature of liabilities akin to those in criminal cases
now brings us to offset such aggravating circumstance with the
apparent fact that the actuations of Judge Malanyaon
complained of had not been motivated by bad faith, or by any
malice towards another. Indeed, he did not intend to thereby
cause any prejudice to another, having so acted from a sincere,
albeit misplaced, desire to go to the help of his wife and
daughter.
Accordingly, the Court deems it condign and proper to mitigate
the fine of P50,000.00 recommended by the Court Administrator
by imposing on Judge Malanyaon a fine of P40,000.00. With his
disability retirement from the Judiciary having been earlier

granted by the Court, the fine shall be deducted from his


remaining retirement benefits.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds and pronounces JUDGE NILO
A. MALANYAON, Presiding Judge of Branch 32 of the
Regional Trial Court in Pili, Camarines Sur, administratively
liable for conduct unbecoming of a Judge, and penalizes him
with a fine of P40,000.00.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS
Associate Justice

P.

BERSAMIN

G.R. No. 197291

April 3, 2013

DATU
ANDAL
AMPATUAN
JR.,
Petitioner,
vs.
SEC. LEILA DE LIMA, as Secretary of the Department of
Justice, CSP CLARO ARELLANO, as Chief State
Prosecutor, National Prosecution Service, and PANEL OF
PROSECUTORS OF THE MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE,
headed by RSP PETER MEDALLE, Respondents.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
In matters involving the exercise of judgment and discretion,
mandamus cannot be used to direct the manner or the particular
way the judgment and discretion are to be exercised.
Consequently, the Secretary of Justice may be compelled by writ
of mandamus to act on a letter-request or a motion to include a
person in the information, but may not be compelled by writ of
mandamus to act in a certain way, i.e., to grant or deny such
letter-request or motion.
The Case
This direct appeal by petition for review on certiorari has been
taken from the final order issued on June 27, 2011 in Civil Case
No. 10-1247771 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 26,
in Manila, dismissing petitioners petition for mandamus.2
Antecedents
History will never forget the atrocities perpetrated on November
23, 2009, when 57 innocent civilians were massacred in Sitio
Masalay, Municipality of Ampatuan, Maguindanao Province.
Among the principal suspects was petitioner, then the Mayor of
the Municipality of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Province. Inquest
proceedings were conducted against petitioner on November 26,
2009 at the General Santos (Tambler) Airport Lounge, before he

was flown to Manila and detained at the main office of the


National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The NBI and the
Philippine National Police (PNP) charged other suspects,
numbering more than a hundred, for what became aptly known
as the Maguindanao massacre.3
Through Department Order No. 948, then Secretary of Justice
Agnes Devanadera constituted a Special Panel of Prosecutors to
conduct the preliminary investigation.
On November 27, 2009, the Department of Justice (DOJ)
resolved to file the corresponding informations for murder
against petitioner, and to issue subpoenae to several persons. 4
On December 1, 2009, 25 informations for murder were also
filed against petitioner in the Regional Trial Court, 12th Judicial
Region, in Cotabato City.5
On December 3, 2009, Secretary of Justice Devanadera
transmitted her letter to Chief Justice Puno requesting the
transfer of the venue of the trial of the Maguindanao massacre
from Cotabato City to Metro Manila, either in Quezon City or in
Manila, to prevent a miscarriage of justice. 6 On December 8,
2009, the Court granted the request for the transfer of venue. 7
However, on December 9, 2009, but prior to the transfer of the
venue of the trial to Metro Manila, the Prosecution filed a
manifestation regarding the filing of 15 additional informations
for murder against petitioner in Branch 15 of the Cotabato City
RTC.8 Later on, additional informations for murder were filed
against petitioner in the RTC in Quezon City, Branch 211, the
new venue of the trial pursuant to the resolution of the Court.9
The records show that petitioner pleaded not guilty to each of
the 41 informations for murder when he was arraigned on
January 5, 2010,10 February 3, 2010,11 and July 28, 2010.12
In the joint resolution issued on February 5, 2010, the Panel
Prosecutors charged 196 individuals with multiple murder
relation to the Maguindanao massacre.13 It appears that
issuing the joint resolution of February 5, 2010 the Panel

of
in
in
of

Prosecutors partly relied on the twin affidavits of one Kenny


Dalandag, both dated December 7, 2009.14
On August 13, 2010, Dalandag was admitted into the Witness
Protection Program of the DOJ.15 On September 7, 2010, the QC
RTC issued its amended pre-trial order,16 wherein Dalandag was
listed as one of the Prosecution witnesses.17
On October 14, 2010, petitioner, through counsel, wrote to
respondent Secretary of Justice Leila De Lima and Assistant
Chief State Prosecutor Richard Fadullon to request the inclusion
of Dalandag in the informations for murder considering that
Dalandag had already confessed his participation in the
massacre through his two sworn declarations. 18 Petitioner
reiterated the request twice more on October 22, 201019 and
November 2, 2010.20
By her letter dated November 2, 2010,21 however, Secretary De
Lima denied petitioners request.
Accordingly, on December 7, 2010, petitioner brought a petition
for mandamus in the RTC in Manila (Civil Case No. 10124777),22 seeking to compel respondents to charge Dalandag as
another accused in the various murder cases undergoing trial in
the QC RTC.
On January 19, 2011,23 the RTC in Manila set a pre-trial
conference on January 24, 2011 in Civil Case No. 10-124777. At
the close of the pre-trial, the RTC in Manila issued a pre-trial
order.
In their manifestation and motion dated February 15, 201124 and
February 18, 2011,25 respondents questioned the propriety of the
conduct of a trial in a proceeding for mandamus. Petitioner
opposed.
On February 15, 2011, petitioner filed a motion for the
production of documents,26 which the RTC in Manila granted on

March 21, 2011 after respondents did not file either a comment
or an opposition.
Respondents then sought the reconsideration of the order of
March 21, 2011.
On March 21, 2011,27 the RTC in Manila issued a subpoena to
Dalandag, care of the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ,
requiring him to appear and testify on April 4, 2011 in Civil
Case No. 10-124777.
On April 4, 2011, respondents moved to quash the subpoena. 28
Petitioner opposed the motion to quash the subpoena on April
15, 2011.29 The parties filed other papers, specifically,
respondents their reply dated April 26, 2011;30 petitioner an
opposition on May 12, 2011;31 and respondents another reply
dated May 20, 2011.32
On June 27, 2011,33 the RTC of Manila issued the assailed order
in Civil Case No. 10-124777 dismissing the petition for
mandamus.34
Hence, this appeal by petition for review on certiorari.
Issues
Petitioner raises the following issues, to wit:
1. WHETHER THE PUBLIC RESPONDENTS MAY BE
COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS TO INVESTIGATE AND
PROSECUTE KENNY DALANDAG AS AN ACCUSED IN
THE INFORMATIONS FOR MULTIPLE MURDER IN THE
MAGUINADANAO MASSACRE CASES IN LIGHT OF HIS
ADMITTED PARTICIPATION THEREAT IN AFFIDAVITS
AND OFFICIAL RECORDS FILED WITH THE
PROSECUTOR AND THE QC RTC; and,
2. WHETHER THE SUBSEQUENT INCLUSION OF KENNY
DALANDAG IN THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM

JUSTIFIES EXCLUSION AS AN ACCUSED AND HIS NONINDICTMENT FOR HIS COMPLICITY IN THE
MAGUINDANAO
MASSACRE
NOTWITHSTANDING
ADMISSIONS MADE THAT HE TOOK PART IN ITS
PLANNING AND EXECUTION.35
The crucial issue is whether respondents may be compelled by
writ of mandamus to charge Dalandag as an accused for
multiple murder in relation to the Maguindanao massacre
despite his admission to the Witness Protection Program of the
DOJ.
Ruling
The appeal lacks merit.
The prosecution of crimes pertains to the Executive Department
of the Government whose principal power and responsibility are
to see to it that our laws are faithfully executed. A necessary
component of the power to execute our laws is the right to
prosecute their violators. The right to prosecute vests the public
prosecutors with a wide range of discretion the discretion of
what and whom to charge, the exercise of which depends on a
smorgasbord of factors that are best appreciated by the public
prosecutors.36
The public prosecutors are solely responsible for the
determination of the amount of evidence sufficient to establish
probable cause to justify the filing of appropriate criminal
charges against a respondent. Theirs is also the quasi-judicial
discretion to determine whether or not criminal cases should be
filed in court.37
Consistent with the principle of separation of powers enshrined
in the Constitution, the Court deems it a sound judicial policy
not to interfere in the conduct of preliminary investigations, and
to allow the Executive Department, through the Department of
Justice, exclusively to determine what constitutes sufficient
evidence to establish probable cause for the prosecution of

supposed offenders. By way of exception, however, judicial


review may be allowed where it is clearly established that the
public prosecutor committed grave abuse of discretion, that is,
when he has exercised his discretion "in an arbitrary, capricious,
whimsical or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal
hostility, patent and gross enough as to amount to an evasion of
a positive duty or virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by
law."38
The records herein are bereft of any showing that the Panel of
Prosecutors committed grave abuse of discretion in identifying
the 196 individuals to be indicted for the Maguindanao
massacre. It is notable in this regard that petitioner does not
assail the joint resolution recommending such number of
individuals to be charged with multiple murder, but only seeks
to have Dalandag be also investigated and charged as one of the
accused based because of his own admissions in his sworn
declarations. However, his exclusion as an accused from the
informations did not at all amount to grave abuse of discretion
on the part of the Panel of Prosecutors whose procedure in
excluding Dalandag as an accused was far from arbitrary,
capricious, whimsical or despotic. Section 2, Rule 110 of the
Rules of Court, which requires that "the complaint or
information shall be xxx against all persons who appear to be
responsible for the offense involved," albeit a mandatory
provision, may be subject of some exceptions, one of which is
when a participant in the commission of a crime becomes a state
witness.
The two modes by which a participant in the commission of a
crime may become a state witness are, namely: (a) by discharge
from the criminal case pursuant to Section 17 of Rule 119 of the
Rules of Court; and (b) by the approval of his application for
admission into the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ in
accordance with Republic Act No. 6981 (The Witness
Protection, Security and Benefit Act).39 These modes are
intended to encourage a person who has witnessed a crime or
who has knowledge of its commission to come forward and

testify in court or quasi-judicial body, or before an investigating


authority, by protecting him from reprisals, and shielding him
from economic dislocation.
These modes, while seemingly alike, are distinct and separate
from each other.
Under Section 17, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, the discharge
by the trial court of one or more of several accused with their
consent so that they can be witnesses for the State is made upon
motion by the Prosecution before resting its case. The trial court
shall require the Prosecution to present evidence and the sworn
statements of the proposed witnesses at a hearing in support of
the discharge. The trial court must ascertain if the following
conditions fixed by Section 17 of Rule 119 are complied with,
namely: (a) there is absolute necessity for the testimony of the
accused whose discharge is requested; (b) there is no other
direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the
offense committed, except the testimony of said accused; (c) the
testimony of said accused can be substantially corroborated in
its material points; (d) said accused does not appear to be most
guilty; and (e) said accused has not at any time been convicted
of any offense involving moral turpitude.
On the other hand, Section 10 of Republic Act No. 6981
provides:
Section 10. State Witness. Any person who has participated
in the commission of a crime and desires to be a witness for the
State, can apply and, if qualified as determined in this Act and
by the Department, shall be admitted into the Program whenever
the following circumstances are present:
a. the offense in which his testimony will be used is a grave
felony as defined under the Revised Penal Code or its equivalent
under special laws;
b. there is absolute necessity for his testimony;

c. there is no other direct evidence available for the proper


prosecution of the offense committed;
d. his testimony can be substantially corroborated on its material
points;
e. he does not appear to be most guilty; and
f. he has not at any time been convicted of any crime involving
moral turpitude.
An accused discharged from an information or criminal
complaint by the court in order that he may be a State Witness
pursuant to Section 9 and 10 of Rule 119 of the Revised Rules
of Court may upon his petition be admitted to the Program if he
complies with the other requirements of this Act. Nothing in this
Act shall prevent the discharge of an accused, so that he can be
used as a State Witness under Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of
Court.
Save for the circumstance covered by paragraph (a) of Section
10, supra, the requisites under both rules are essentially the
same. Also worth noting is that an accused discharged from an
information by the trial court pursuant to Section 17 of Rule 119
may also be admitted to the Witness Protection Program of the
DOJ provided he complies with the requirements of Republic
Act No. 6981.
A participant in the commission of the crime, to be discharged to
become a state witness pursuant to Rule 119, must be one
charged as an accused in the criminal case. The discharge
operates as an acquittal of the discharged accused and shall be a
bar to his future prosecution for the same offense, unless he fails
or refuses to testify against his co-accused in accordance with
his sworn statement constituting the basis for his discharge. 40
The discharge is expressly left to the sound discretion of the trial
court, which has the exclusive responsibility to see to it that the
conditions prescribed by the rules for that purpose exist.41

While it is true that, as a general rule, the discharge or exclusion


of a co-accused from the information in order that he may be
utilized as a Prosecution witness rests upon the sound discretion
of the trial court,42 such discretion is not absolute and may not
be exercised arbitrarily, but with due regard to the proper
administration of justice.43 Anent the requisite that there must be
an absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose
discharge is sought, the trial court has to rely on the suggestions
of and the information provided by the public prosecutor. The
reason is obvious the public prosecutor should know better
than the trial court, and the Defense for that matter, which of the
several accused would best qualify to be discharged in order to
become a state witness. The public prosecutor is also supposed
to know the evidence in his possession and whomever he needs
to establish his case,44 as well as the availability or nonavailability of other direct or corroborative evidence, which of
the accused is the most guilty one, and the like.45
On the other hand, there is no requirement under Republic Act
No. 6981 for the Prosecution to first charge a person in court as
one of the accused in order for him to qualify for admission into
the Witness Protection Program. The admission as a state
witness under Republic Act No. 6981 also operates as an
acquittal, and said witness cannot subsequently be included in
the criminal information except when he fails or refuses to
testify. The immunity for the state witness is granted by the
DOJ, not by the trial court. Should such witness be meanwhile
charged in court as an accused, the public prosecutor, upon
presentation to him of the certification of admission into the
Witness Protection Program, shall petition the trial court for the
discharge of the witness.46 The Court shall then order the
discharge and exclusion of said accused from the information.47
The admission of Dalandag into the Witness Protection Program
of the Government as a state witness since August 13, 2010 was
warranted by the absolute necessity of his testimony to the
successful prosecution of the criminal charges. Apparently, all
the conditions prescribed by Republic Act No. 6981 were met in

his case. That he admitted his participation in the commission of


the Maguindanao massacre was no hindrance to his admission
into the Witness Protection Program as a state witness, for all
that was necessary was for him to appear not the most guilty.
Accordingly, he could not anymore be charged for his
participation in the Maguindanao massacre, as to which his
admission operated as an acquittal, unless he later on refuses or
fails to testify in accordance with the sworn statement that
became the basis for his discharge against those now charged for
the crimes.
Mandamus shall issue when any tribunal, corporation, board,
officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act
that the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an
office, trust, or station. It is proper when the act against which it
is directed is one addressed to the discretion of the tribunal or
officer. In matters involving the exercise of judgment and
discretion, mandamus may only be resorted to in order to
compel respondent tribunal, corporation, board, officer or
person to take action, but it cannot be used to direct the manner
or the particular way discretion is to be exercised, 48or to compel
the retraction or reversal of an action already taken in the
exercise of judgment or discretion.49
As such, respondent Secretary of Justice may be compelled to
act on the letter-request of petitioner, but may not be compelled
to act in a certain way, i.e., to grant or deny such letter-request.
Considering that respondent Secretary of Justice already denied
the letter-request, mandamus was no longer available as
petitioner's recourse.
WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petition for review on
certiorari; AFFIRMS the final order issued on June 27, 2011 in
Civil Case No. 10-124777 by the Regional Trial Court in
Manila; and ORDERS petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.

LUCAS
Associate Justice

P.

BERSAMIN

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 157445

April 3, 2013

SEGUNDINA A. GALVEZ, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, SPOUSES HONORIO C.
MONTANO and SUSANA P. MONTANO and PHILIPPINE
NATIONAL BANK, Respondents.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The mere failure to attach copies of pleadings and other material
portions of the record as would support the allegations should
not cause. the outright dismissal of a petition for review. The
allegations of the petition must be examined to determine the
sufficiency of the attachments appended thereto.
Antecedents
The petitioner assails the dismissal by the Court of Appeals
(CA) of her petition for review through the resolution
promulgated on June 25, 20021 on the ground of her failure to
attach to her petition "copies of pleadings and other material
portions of the record as would support the allegations." She
prays that the dismissal be set aside, and that the case be
remanded to the CA for resolution of her appeal on the merits,
unless the Court should find it convenient instead to decide her
appeal itself.
The case involves a parcel of land (property) located in
Barangay District II, Babatngon, Leyte, which used to be owned
by Spouses Eustacio and Segundina Galvez. After their marital
relationship turned sour, Eustacio and Segundina separated and
cohabited with other partners. On January 6, 1981, Eustacio sold
the property to their daughter Jovita without the knowledge or
consent of Segundina.2 After the sale, Jovita constituted a

mortgage on the property on March 9, 1981 to secure her loan


from the Philippine National Bank (PNB).3 Jovita failed to pay
her obligation. Hence, PNB had the property extrajudicially
foreclosed. In the ensuing foreclosure sale, PNB was the highest
bidder. There being no redemption, the property became PNBs
acquired asset. On June 10, 1992, respondents Spouses Honorio
and Susana Montao purchased the property from PNB.4
Thereafter, the Montaos tried to get the actual possession of the
property, but Segundina refused to vacate. Accordingly, the
Montaos sued Segundina for recovery of ownership and
possession, and damages in the Municipal Trial Court of
Babatngon, Leyte (MTC).5
Segundina countered that the sale of the property by Eustacio to
Jovita was null and void for having been done without her
knowledge and consent; that the sale to PNB as well as to the
Montaos were consequently void; and that the Montaos were
also buyers in bad faith.6
On February 4, 2000, the MTC ruled in favor of the Montaos, 7
holding that the sale by Eustacio to Jovita was merely voidable,
not null and void; that because Segundina had not brought an
action for the annulment of the sale within 10 years from the
date of the transaction, as provided in Article 173 of the Civil
Code, the sale remained valid; that Segundina did not establish
that the foreclosure proceedings, auction sale, and the
acquisition of the property by the Montaos were void; and that
in view of the valid acquisition of the property by PNB during
the foreclosure sale, the subsequent sale to the Montaos was
also valid.
The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby
rendered by way of ordering defendant Segundina Galvez; (a)
To vacate the property in question and to peacefully turn-over
the possession thereof unto the plaintiffs; (b) To pay P5,000 as
attorneys fees; (c) To pay plaintiffs a reasonable rental in the

amount of P 100 per month being the prevailing rental rate in


this locality to start from 1993 up to the date when the defendant
actually vacate the premises; (d) and to pay the cost.
SO DECIDED.8
Segundina appealed to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in
Tacloban City, assigning the following errors, namely:
I. THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING
THE SALE OF THE PROPERTY TO JOVITA GALVEZ BY
EUSTACIO GALVEZ NULL AND VOID AS IT WAS
WITHOUT THE CONSENT AND KNOWLEDGE OF
SEGUNDINA GALVEZ.
II. THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING
THAT PNB DID NOT ACQUIRE ANY RIGHT TO THE
PROPERTY MORTGAGED BY JOVITA GALVEZ AS THE
SALE FROM EUSTACIO GALVEZ TO JOVITA GALVEZ
WAS IN THE FIRST PLACE NULL AND VOID.
III. THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT
DECLARING THAT SINCE PNB DID NOT ACQUIRE ANY
RIGHT
BECAUSE
OF
SUCH
FRAUDULENT
TRANSACTION PLAINTIFFS DID NOT LIKEWISE
ACQUIRE ANY VALID RIGHTS TO SAID PROPERTY;
IV. THAT THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT
DECLARING THE SALE OF THE PROPERTY AT THE
PUBLIC BIDDING VOID FOR BEING A VIOLATION OF
THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE DEED OF
MORTGAGE AND THE SALE AT PUBLIC AUCTION OF
THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION OUTSIDE THE CAPITAL
OF THE PROVINCE OF LEYTE WAS A JURISDICTIONAL
DEFECT.
V. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT
SINCE SEGUNDINA GALVEZ FAILED TO CAUSE THE
ANNULMENT OF THE SALE MADE BY HER HUSBAND

WHO ABANDONED HER WITHIN TEN YEARS FROM


TRANSACTION PRESCRIPTION HAD SET IN.
VI. THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DECLARING
PLAINTIFFS AS OWNERS AND ENTITLED TO POSSESS
THE PROPERTY.
VII. THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN AWARDING
DAMAGES SUCH AS ATTORNEYS FEES, RENTALS AND
COST TO PLAINTIFFS AND AGAINST DEFENDANT
SEGUNDINA
GALVEZ
EVEN
WITHOUT
EVEN
9
SUFFICIENTLY PRESENTED.
On November 29, 2000, the RTC affirmed the MTCs
decision.10Segundina filed a motion for reconsideration against
the RTCs decision, but the RTC denied her motion on April 22,
2002.11
Ruling of the CA
Thereafter, Segundina appealed to the CA by petition for review,
docketed as C.A.-G.R. SP No. 71044 entitled Segundina A.
Galvez v. Spouses Honorio C. Montano and Susana P. Montano
and Philippine National Bank.
On June 25, 2002, the CA promulgated its first assailed
resolution,12 viz:
A cursory perusal of the instant petition for review shows that
no copies of pleadings and other material portions of the record
as would support the allegations thereof were attached as
annexes in violation of Section 2, Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure, which pertinently provides that the petition
shall:
" be accompanied by clearly legible duplicate originals or true
copies of the judgments or final orders of both lower courts,
certified correct by the clerk of court of the Regional Trial
Court, the requisite number of plain copies thereof and of the

pleadings and other material portions of the record as would


support the allegations of the petition."
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition for
review is hereby DISMISSED outright.
SO ORDERED.
Segundina moved for the reconsideration of the resolution, 13
arguing that it was within her judgment as petitioner to decide
what documents, pleadings or portions of the records would
support her petition; that her exercise of judgment was not a
technical error that warranted the outright dismissal of her
petition; that the rule requiring all pleadings and material
portions of the records to be attached to the petition was an
"absurd requirement"; and that attaching the pleadings and other
portions of the record was not an indispensable requirement the
non-compliance with which would cause the denial of the
petition.
On February 6, 2003, the CA denied Segundinas motion for
reconsideration,14 pertinently stating:
The motion is patently devoid of merit.
As a party raising exceptions to the findings of fact and
conclusions of law in the February 4, 2000 Decision of the
Municipal Trial Court of Babatngon, Leyte and the November
29, 2000 decision of Branch 34 of the Regional Trial Court of
Tacloban City, petitioner is hardly in the proper position to adopt
the brazen attitude that underlies the motion. She seeks the
reversal of the lower courts determination of the parties rights
and yet, by her present stance, would have Us believe that the
very decisions embodying the same are sufficient to serve as
bases for the allowance of her petition. Needless to say, We find
petitioners impolitic justification of the shortcomings of her
petition quite incomprehensible.

To Our mind, petitioners obfuscation regarding what is required


of her may be traceable to her misconstruction of the terms
"pleading" and "material". While the latter term is concededly
relative, a simple reference to Rule 6 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure on "Kinds of Pleadings" would have effectively ruled
out her unwarranted misgivings about reproducing the entire
record and attaching the same to her petition. Given the cursory
manner in which they are recounted in the petition, said
attachments would have given Us a clearer and more complete
background of the factual and procedural antecedents of the
case.
At any rate, the procedural repercussion of petitioners omission
is evidence from Section 3, Rule 43 of Rules, viz:
"Section 3. Effect of failure to comply with requirements. The
failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing
requirements regarding the payment of docket and other lawful
fees, the deposit for costs, proof of service of the petition, and
the contents of the document which should accompany the
petition shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal thereof."
WHEREFORE, petitioners motion for reconsideration is
DENIED for patent lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Aggrieved, Segundina has appealed to the Court.
Issues
Segundina submits that the CA refused to examine the merits of
her petition because of a technicality.15 She contends that the CA
thus erred, as follows:
1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED
AN ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT IMPOSED AN
UNREASONABLE
REQUIREMENT
THAT
ALL

PLEADINGS FILED BEFORE THE LOWER COURTS


SHOULD BE ATTACHED TO THE PETITION.
2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED
AN ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT DISMISSED THE PETITION
FOR REVIEW DESPITE THE ATTACHMENT OF
MATERIAL PORTIONS OF THE RECORD AS WOULD
SUPPORT THE PETITION.16
Segundina amplifies that she attached to her petition for review
the certified true copies of the MTC decision dated February 4,
2000, the RTC decision dated November 29, 2000, and the RTC
order dated April 22, 2002; that her allegations and the
references in her petition for review were directed at the MTC
and RTC decisions and order; that the averments contained in
the "Statement of Facts" of her petition for review were
themselves culled from the MTC and RTC decisions; 17 that,
moreover, the grounds of her petition for review all concerned
errors of law that, unlike questions of facts, could be resolved
without having to examine the evidence of the parties, the
pleadings they had submitted, and the portions of the records;
that it was within her sound judgment to determine which
documents, pleadings or portions of the record would support
her petition;18 that the CA was imposing an "absurd
requirement" by ruling that all pleadings and material portions
should be attached to the petition for review; 19 that the CA did
not even specify which pleadings or material portions of the
records should have been attached to her petition for review; and
that the CA did not also specify the issue that it would be unable
to appreciate and determine because of her supposedly
incomplete attachments.20
Segundina insists that the failure to attach the complaint, answer
and reply to her petition for review did not warrant the outright
dismissal of the petition for review; that the MTC decision had
already stated the respective claims and defenses of the parties,
making the attachment of the complaint, answer and reply to
serve no useful purpose, but, instead, only to increase her

expenses for photocopying; that attaching all pleadings was not


required in the other modes of review;21 that even if a specific
pleading should be needed to decide her petition for review, its
absence should only justify the holding that a particular
allegation was unsupported, but should not cause the dismissal
of the entire petition; and that the CA could even direct the clerk
of court of the RTC to elevate the original records and the
evidence in the case.22
On their part, the Montaos moved for the dismissal of the
petition on several grounds, specifically: (a) that they were
purchasers in good faith and for value when they acquired the
property; (b) that Segundina could no longer assail the lack of
her consent to the sale between Jovita and Eustacio by reason of
prescription; and (c) that Jovita could not question the validity
of the sale by reason of estoppel.23
Ruling of the Court
Section 2, Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
pertinently provides as follows:
Section 2. Form and contents. The petition shall be filed in
seven (7) legible copies, with the original copy intended for the
court being indicated as such by the petitioner, and shall (a) state
the full names of the parties to the case, without impleading the
lower courts or judges thereof either as petitioners or
respondents; (b) indicate the specific material dates showing that
it was filed on time; (c) set forth concisely a statement of the
matters involved, the issues raised, the specification of errors of
fact or law, or both, allegedly committed by the Regional Trial
Court, and the reasons or arguments relied upon for the
allowance of the appeal; (d) be accompanied by clearly legible
duplicate originals or true copies of the judgments or final
orders of both lower courts, certified correct by the clerk of
court of the Regional Trial Court, the requisite number of plain
copies thereof and of the pleadings and other material portions
of the record as would support the allegations of the petition.

xxxx
The dismissal of Segundinas petition for review upon the
ground stated in the assailed resolutions was based on Section 3,
Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, to wit:
Section 3. Effect of failure to comply with requirements. The
failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing
requirements regarding the payment of the docket and other
lawful fees, the deposit for costs, proof of service of the petition,
and the contents of and the documents which should accompany
the petition shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal thereof.
Considering that Segundina attached the certified true copies of
the MTC decision dated February 4, 2000, the RTC decision
dated November 29, 2000, and the RTC order dated April 22,
2002, the mandatory nature of the requirement of attaching
clearly legible duplicate originals or certified true copies of the
judgments or final orders is not in issue here. What is in issue
was her failure to attach "the pleadings and other material
portions of the record as would support the allegations of the
petition."
The petition is meritorious.
In Atillo v. Bombay,24 a case strikingly similar to this one
because the petitioner did not annex to her petition copies of the
pleadings and other material portions of the record like the
complaint, answer and position papers filed in the trial court in
violation of the rule, the Court had the occasion to hold that
although the phrase "of the pleadings and other material portions
of the record as would support the allegations of the petition"
contemplated the exercise of discretion by a petitioner in
selecting the documents relevant to the petition for review, it
was still the CA that would determine if the attached supporting
documents were sufficient to make out a prima facie case. 25 In
so holding, however, the Court "fairly assumed that the CA took
pains in the case at bar to examine the documents attached to the
petition so that it could discern whether on the basis of what

have been submitted it could already judiciously determine the


merits of the petition. The crucial issue to consider then is
whether or not the documents accompanying the petition before
the CA sufficiently supported the allegations therein."26
In Cusi-Hernandez v. Diaz,27 a case where the petitioner did not
attach to her petition for review a copy of the contract to sell
that was at the center of controversy, the Court nonetheless
found that there was a substantial compliance with the rule,
considering that the petitioner had appended to the petition for
review a certified copy of the decision of the MTC that
contained a verbatim reproduction of the omitted contract.
Moreover, it is settled that the petitioners failure to append the
pleadings and pertinent documents to the petition can be
rectified by the subsequent filing of a motion for reconsideration
to which is attached the omitted pleadings and documents as
required by the CA.28
The foregoing rulings show that the mere failure to attach copies
of the pleadings and other material portions of the record as
would support the allegations of the petition for review is not
necessarily fatal as to warrant the outright denial of due course
when the clearly legible duplicate originals or true copies of the
judgments or final orders of both lower courts, certified correct
by the clerk of court of the RTC, and other attachments of the
petition sufficiently substantiate the allegations.
For the guidance of the CA, therefore, the Court has laid down
three guideposts in determining the necessity of attaching the
pleadings and portions of the records to the petition in Air
Philippines Corporation v. Zamora,29 which involved the
dismissal of a petition for certiorari assailing an unfavorable
decision in a labor dispute for failing to attach copies of all
pleadings (like the complaint, answer, position paper) and other
material portions of the record as would support the allegations
in the petition, to wit:

First, not all pleadings and parts of case records are required to
be attached to the petition. Only those which are relevant and
pertinent must accompany it. The test of relevancy is whether
the document in question will support the material allegations in
the petition, whether said document will make out a prima facie
case of grave abuse of discretion as to convince the court to give
due course to the petition.
Second, even if a document is relevant and pertinent to the
petition, it need not be appended if it is shown that the contents
thereof can also found in another document already attached to
the petition. Thus, if the material allegations in a position paper
are summarized in a questioned judgment, it will suffice that
only a certified true copy of the judgment is attached.1wphi1
Third, a petition lacking an essential pleading or part of the case
record may still be given due course or reinstated (if earlier
dismissed) upon showing that petitioner later submitted the
documents required, or that it will serve the higher interest of
justice that the case be decided on the merits.30
The guideposts, which equally apply to a petition for review
filed in the CA under Rule 42,31 reflect that the significant
determinant of the sufficiency of the attached documents is
whether the accompanying documents support the allegations of
the petition.
For this case, then, the relevancy of the documents Segundina
attached to her petition for review could be appreciated by
looking at her allegations, which have been as set forth earlier,
and her assignment of errors, which reads thusly:
1. THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN NOT DECLARING
AS NULL AND VOID THE SALE OF THE SUBJECT
PROPERTY BY EUSTACIO GALVEZ TO JOVITA GALVEZ,
THE SAME BEING WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF HIS
WIFE, PETITIONER SEGUNDINA GALVEZ.

2. THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT


COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN NOT DECLARING
AS NULL AND VOID THE SALE OF THE SUBJECT
PROPERTY BY EUSTACIO GALVEZ TO JOVITA GALVEZ,
THE SAME BEING WITHOUT CONSIDERATION.
3. THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN NOT DECLARING
AS NULL AND VOID THE AUCTION SALE OF THE
SUBJECT PROPERTY CONDUCTED IN A PLACE OTHER
THAN THE PLACE STIPULATED IN THE DEED OF REAL
ESTATE MORTGAGE, I.E., THE CAPITOL OF THE
PROVINCE OF LEYTE.
4. THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN DECLARING
RESPONDENT PNB AS A BUYER IN GOOD FAITH OF THE
SUBJECT PROPERTY.
5. THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN DECLARING
RESPONDENT SPOUSES MONTANO AS BUYERS IN
GOOD FAITH OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY.
6. THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN AFFIRMING, AND
NOT REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT (sic) AND IN NOT DISMISSING THE
COMPLAINT
AND
GRANTING
PETITIONERS
COUNTERCLAIMS AND THIRD PARTY CLAIMS.32
The Court considers the attachments of Segundinas petition for
review (i.e., the certified true copies of the MTC decision dated
February 4, 2000, the RTC decision dated November 29, 2000,
and the RTC order dated April 22, 2002) already sufficient to
enable the CA to pass upon her assigned errors and to resolve
her appeal even without the pleadings and other portions of the
records. To still deny due course to her petition for not attaching
the complaint and the answer despite the MTC decision having

substantially summarized their contents was to ignore the spirit


and purpose of the requirement to give sufficient information to
the CA. The Court reiterates what it has cautioned the CA in Air
Philippines Corporation v. Zamora33 not to be overzealous in its
enforcement of the rules.
In its resolution denying Segundinas motion for
reconsideration, the CA brushed aside her position of not
needing to attach other portions of the records of the MTC and
the RTC by reminding that she was the party who had raised
"exceptions to the findings of fact and conclusions of law" by
the MTC and the RTC.34 The CAs reminder was unfounded,
however, considering that her petition focused only on questions
of law, like the effects of the lack of her consent to the sale to
Jovita, the want of consideration for that sale, and the conduct of
the foreclosure sale in a place other than that stipulated in the
deed of real estate mortgage. It was plain that she was not
assailing the propriety of the findings of fact by the MTC and
the RTC, but only the conclusions reached by said lower courts
after their appreciation of the facts. In dealing with the questions
of law, the CA could simply refer to the attached decisions of the
MTC and the RTC.
Besides, even had the CA actually believed that_ the proper
consideration of the petition for review would be requiring
another look at the factual issues, it could still resolve such
issues by relying on the accepted principle that the factual
findings of the lower courts were entitled to great weight.
Likewise, were a reference to the records of the trial court be
held by the CA to be still necessary to settle any remaining
doubt as to the propriety of the factual findings of the lower
courts, the CA could have itself called upon Segundina to
submit additional documents, or could have itself directed the
clerk of court of the R TC to elevate the original records to
enable it to make a complete adjudication of the case. Outright
denial of due course under the circumstances contravened
Segundina's right to be heard on her appeal, and constituted a
gross error on the part of the CA.

WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition for review on


certiorari; REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the assailed resolution
promulgated on June 25, 2002 outrightly denying due course to
the petition for review in C.A.-G.R. SP No. 71044 entitled
Segundina A. Galvez v. Spouses Honoria C. Montano and
Susana P. Montano and Philippine National Bank, and the
resolution promulgated on February 6, 2003 denying petitioner's
motion for reconsideration; and REINSTATES C.A.-G.R. SP
No. 71044, with instructions for the Court of Appeals to process
and resolve the appeal with reasonable dispatch. Respondents
are ordered to pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 175939

April 3, 2013

PEOPLE
OF
THE
PHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs.
CHAD MANANSALA y LAGMAN, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The due recognition of the constitutional right of an accused to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation through the criminal complaint or
information is decisive of whether his prosecution for a crime stands or not. The
right is not transgressed if the information sufficiently alleges facts and
omissions constituting an offense that includes the offense established to have
been committed by the accused.
The Case
Chad Manansala y Lagman seeks to reverse the decision promulgated on July 26,
2006, whereby the Court of Appeals (CA)1 affirmed .with modification his
conviction for the illegal possession and control of 750 grams of dried marijuana
leaves in violation of Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act
of 1972) that the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 74, Olongapo City had
handed down through its decision dated February 1, 2000,2 sentencing him to
suffer the penalties of "reclusion perpetua maximum or imprisonment from thirty
(30) years and one (1) day to forty (40) years and to pay the fine of Seven
Hundred Fifty (P750,000.00) Thousand Pesos, with subsidiary imprisonment."
Antecedents
The information filed on October 20, 1994 alleged:
That on or about the nineteenth (19th) day of October, 1994, in the City of
Olongapo, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, without being lawfully authorized did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and knowingly engage in selling, delivering, giving away to
another and distributing more or less 750 grams or 3/4 kilo of marijuana dried
leaves placed in a small wooden box inside the cabinet, which are prohibited
drugs, found in his possession and control.

CONTRARY TO LAW.3
To substantiate the charge, the Prosecution showed the following.
On October 18, 1994 the Philippine National Police in Olongapo City (PNP)
conducted a test-buy operation against Manansala, a suspected dealer of
marijuana. On the same date, following the test-buy, the PNP applied for and
obtained a search warrant from the RTC, Branch 72, Olongapo City (Search
Warrant No. 8-94) to authorize the search for and seizure of prohibited drugs in
Manansalas residence located at No. 55 Johnson Extension, Barangay East
Bajac Bajac, Olongapo City.4 SPO4 Felipe P. Bolina and other elements of the
PNP, accompanied by Barangay Chairman Reynaldo Manalang of Barangay East
Bajac Bajac, conducted the search of Manansalas house at around 5:30 a.m. on
October 19, 1994. The search yielded the 750 grams of dried marijuana leaves
subject of the information, which the search team recovered from a wooden box
placed inside a cabinet. Also seized was the amount of P655.00 that included the
two marked P50.00 bills bearing serial numbers SNKJ812018 and SNMN426747
used during the test buy.5
All the seized articles were inventoried, and Manansala himself signed the
certification to that effect, along with his father, Jose Manansala, and Barangay
Captain Manalang.6 The certification listed the following seized articles, to wit:
(a) one kilo, more or less, of suspected dried marijuana leaves; (b) rolling paper;
and (c) money amounting to P655.00.
SPO4 Bolina and his team brought Manansala to Camp Cabal in Olongapo City,
where they turned over the seized articles to the evidence custodian, SPO2
Marcelino R. Sapad. At around 8:20 a.m. of October 20, 1994, the seized articles
were submitted to the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Olivas, San Fernando,
Pampanga for qualitative examination.
The PNP Crime Laboratory later issued Technical Report No. D-396-94,7 to wit:
SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:
Spmn "A" One (1) big transparent plastic bag containing two (2) rectangular
bricks of dried suspected MARIJUANA fruiting tops having a total weight of
seven hundred fifty five (755) grams.
Spmn "B" One (1) medium size plastic bag containing dried suspected
MARIJUANA fruiting tops weighing 9.045 grams. x x x.

PURPOSE OF LABORATORY EXAMINATION:


To determine the presence of any prohibited and/or regulated drug in the abovestated specimen. x x x.
FINDINGS:
Qualitative examination conducted on the above-stated specimen gave
POSITIVE result for MARIJUANA, a prohibited drug. x x x.
CONCLUSION:
Spmns "A" and "B" contain MARIJUANA, a prohibited drug.8
Manansala pleaded not guilty on November 22, 1994.9
On January 4, 1995, First Asst. City Prosecutor Mario F. Manalansan filed a
motion for the admission of an amended information, ostensibly to modify the
offense charged from illegal sale of prohibited drugs under Section 4 of Republic
Act No. 6425 to illegal possession of prohibited drugs under Section 8 of the
same law.10 But the RTC did not act on the motion.
Nonetheless, the trial proceeded, with the Prosecution establishing the matters
earlier summarized.
In his turn, Manansala denied the charge, alleging that he had been the victim of
a frame-up. His version follows.
On October 19, 1994, military men clad in civilian attire arrived at his house and
arrested him without any warrant, and brought him to an office he referred to
simply as S2, then to a club located on Magsaysay Street in Olongapo City
known as Dorris 2. His captors mugged and then detained him when he refused
to admit the sale and possession of marijuana. They turned down his request to
be brought to a hospital for the treatment of the injuries he thereby sustained. As
of the time of his testimony, he conceded that he could not identify his captors
and whoever had maltreated him, except SPO4 Bolina whom he recognized in
court when the latter testified at the trial.11
Decision of the RTC
As stated, the RTC convicted Manansala for illegal possession of marijuana in
violation of Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425, holding thus:

The Information to which accused pleaded "not guilty" charges that accused
willfully, unlawfully and knowingly x x x engage in selling, delivering, giving
away to another and distributing x x x falling under the more embracing term
known as "drug pushing". The alleged act of allegedly knowingly selling or
pushing prohibited drugs by the accused was however, not sufficiently proven.
The member of the team who is alleged to have acted as a poseur-buyer of the
illegal stuff from the accused was not presented as a witness, hence, the
testimony of SPO4 Felipe Bolina, to the effect that during the surveillance
conducted prior to the application of the search warrant, a member of the team
acting as poseur buyer was able to buy marijuana from the accused, cannot be
given weight, being hearsay.
However, the fact that the enforcing team where witness Bolina is a member, was
able to find marijuana leaves in the custody, possession and control of the
accused, in the course of the enforcement of the search warrant and has been
established by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt, without controversion
but the denial of the accused, which like alibi, is the weakest defense, this Court
is convinced that accused is guilty instead of violating Section 8, Article II of the
Dangerous Drugs Act as amended, a crime that is necessarily included in the
crime of drug pushing or dealing, for which the accused have been charged with.
In light of these circumstances, this Court has no option that to find accused
guilty and liable for the crime proved. Since the date of the commission of the
crime as proved is October 19, 1994, the provisions of Republic Act No. 7659, in
so far as the imposable penalty is concerned, will find application.
WHEREFORE, finding accused Chad Manansala y Lagman, GUILTY of
Violation of Section 8, Article II of Republic Act No. 6425 as amended by
Republic Act No. 7659, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua maximum or imprisonment from thirty (30) years and one (1) day to
forty (40) years and to pay the fine of Seven Hundred Fifty (P750,000.00)
Thousand Pesos, with subsidiary imprisonment.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.12
Ruling of the CA
On intermediate appeal, the CA reviewed the conviction upon the following
issues, namely:

1. That the conviction, being anchored on evidence procured by virtue of an


invalid warrant, was erroneous;
2. That the RTC erred in convicting the accused for illegal possession of
prohibited drug on the misplaced and inaccurate theory that the offense in
violation of Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425 was necessarily included in the
offense in violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425; and
3. That the RTC overlooked, misinterpreted, misapplied and misrepresented facts
and evidences of substance and importance that, if weighed, assayed and
considered were enough to acquit the accused.13
On July 26, 2006, the CA promulgated its assailed decision, affirming the
conviction subject to modification, viz:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED and
the assailed Decision AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the accusedappellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine
of seven hundred fifty thousand pesos (P750,000.00) with subsidiary
imprisonment.
Accordingly, the prohibited drugs confiscated from the appellant are hereby
ordered transmitted to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) through
the Dangerous Drugs Board for proper disposition. Without pronouncement as to
costs.
SO ORDERED.14
Hence, this appeal, in which Manansala reiterates the errors he already assigned
before the CA.
Ruling
The appeal lacks merit.
The information alleged that "on or about the nineteenth (19th) day of October,
1994, in the City of Olongapo, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without being lawfully authorized
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly engage in selling,
delivering, giving away to another and distributing more or less 750 grams or 3/4
kilo of marijuana dried leaves placed in a small wooden box inside the cabinet,
which are prohibited drugs, found in his possession and control."

The crime thereby charged was a violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No.
6425, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659,15 which provides:
Section 4. Sale, Administration, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of
Prohibited Drugs. - The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging
from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any
person who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, administer, deliver, give away to
another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any prohibited drug, or shall
act as a broker in any such transactions.
Arraigned under such information, Manansala pleaded not guilty to it. But
instead of finding him guilty of the crime charged after trial, the RTC convicted
him for a violation of Section 8, of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by
Republic Act No. 7659, which states:
Section 8. Possession or Use of Prohibited Drugs. - The penalty of reclusion
perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten
million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law,
shall possess or use any prohibited drug subject to the provisions of Section 20
hereof.
On appeal, Manansala assigned as one of the reversible errors committed by the
RTC that the trial court had erred in convicting him for illegal possession of
prohibited drugs on the misplaced and inaccurate theory that the offense of illegal
possession of marijuana in violation of Section 8 was necessarily included in the
offense of illegal sale of marijuana in violation of Section 4.
The CA disagreed with Manansala, however, and held that his conviction for the
illegal possession of marijuana in violation of Section 8 under the information
that had alleged the illegal sale of marijuana under Section 4 was proper, giving
its reasons as follows:
xxxx
Indispensable in every prosecution for the illegal sale of marijuana, a prohibited
drug, is the submission of proof that the sale of the illicit drug took place
between the poseur-buyer and the seller thereof, coupled with the presentation in
court of the corpus delicti as evidence. The element of sale must be
unequivocally established in order to sustain a conviction. In the case before Us,
the trial court correctly held that the prosecution failed to establish, much less
adduce proof, that accused-appellant was indeed guilty of the offense of illegal

sale of marijuana. But it is beyond doubt that he was found in possession of the
same.
While no conviction for the unlawful sale of prohibited drugs may be had
under the present circumstances, the established principle is that possession
of marijuana is absorbed in the sale thereof, except where the seller is
further apprehended in possession of another quantity of the prohibited
drugs not covered by or included in the sale and which are probably
intended for some future dealings or use by the seller. In the case before Us,
it has been satisfactorily ascertained that the bricks of marijuana
confiscated from accused-appellant were the same prohibited drugs subject
of the original Information. In this light, We find that the court a quo
committed no reversible error in convicting the accused-appellant of illegal
possession of dangerous drugs under Section 8, Article II of the Dangerous
Drugs Act of 1972, as amended.
Again, it should be stressed that the crime of unlawful sale of marijuana
penalized under Section 4 of RA 6425 necessarily includes the crime of
unlawful possession thereof. As borne by the records, it has been sufficiently
proven beyond any doubt that the lawful search conducted at the house of the
accused yielded a total of 764.045 grams marijuana dried leaves as verified by
the PNP Forensic Chemist. Thus, on the face of the positive testimony of the
prosecution witness and the presentation of the corpus delicti, it is indubitable
that a crime had in fact been committed and that accused-appellant was the
author of the same.16
xxxx
To properly resolve the appeal, therefore, it is necessary to determine whether the
conviction of Manansala for a violation of Section 8, which the information did
not allege, instead of for a violation of Section 4, which the information alleged,
was not in violation of his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation brought against him.
For sure, there have been many occasions in which the Court has found an
accused charged with the illegal sale of marijuana in violation of Section 4 guilty
instead of the illegal possession of marijuana in violation of Section 8. In the oftcited case of People v. Lacerna,17 the Court held as prevailing the doctrine that
the illegal sale of marijuana absorbs the illegal possession of marijuana, except if
the seller was also apprehended in the illegal possession of another quantity of
marijuana not covered by or not included in the illegal sale, and the other

quantity of marijuana was probably intended for some future dealings or use by
the accused. The premise used in Lacerna was that the illegal possession, being
an element of the illegal sale, was necessarily included in the illegal sale. The
Court observed thusly:
In People vs. Manzano, the Court identified the elements of illegal sale of
prohibited drugs, as follows: (1) the accused sold and delivered a prohibited drug
to another, and (2) he knew that what he had sold and delivered was a dangerous
drug. Although it did not expressly state it, the Court stressed delivery, which
implies prior possession of the prohibited drugs. Sale of a prohibited drug can
never be proven without seizure and identification of the prohibited drug,
affirming that possession is a condition sine qua non.
It being established that illegal possession is an element of and is necessarily
included in the illegal sale of prohibited drugs, the Court will thus determine
appellants culpability under Section 8.
From the penal provision under consideration and from the cases adjudicated, the
elements of illegal possession of prohibited drugs are as follows: (a) the accused
is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug;
(b) such possession is not authorized by law; and (c) the accused freely and
consciously possessed the prohibited drug.18
In all the convictions premised on the situation described in Lacerna, however,
the involvement of a single object in both the illegal sale as the crime charged
and the illegal possession as the crime proved is indispensable, such that only the
prohibited drugs alleged in the information to be the subject of the illegal sale is
considered competent evidence to support the conviction of the accused for the
illegal possession. As such, the illegal possession is either deemed absorbed by or
is considered a necessary element of the illegal sale. On the other hand, any other
illegal substance found in the possession of the accused that is not part of the
subject of the illegal sale should be prosecuted under a distinct and separate
information charging illegal possession; otherwise, the fundamental right of the
accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him
would be flagrantly violated.
It is true that there was an error in the informations statement of the facts
essential to properly describe the offense being charged against Manansala as that
of illegal possession of marijuana; and that the error became known to the
Prosecution, leading Prosecutor Manalansan to himself file the motion for the
admission of the amended information dated January 3, 1995.19 In the motion,

Prosecutor Manalansan manifested that the information as filed charged a


violation of Section 4; and that during the preliminary investigation, he had
concluded that Manansala should have been charged with a violation of Section 8
instead of a violation of Section 4 as far as the 750 grams of dried marijuana
leaves seized from his possession during the implementation of Search Warrant
No. 8-94 was concerned. The distinct and separate nature of the 750 grams of
marijuana leaves from the quantity of marijuana worth P100.00 that was the
object of the test buy became all the more evident in Prosecutor Manalansans
letter dated December 28, 1994 addressed to City Prosecutor Prudencio B.
Jalandoni.20
There, Prosecutor Manalansan stated that the 750 grams of marijuana dried
leaves had been seized from the possession Manansala on October 19, 1994 by
virtue of the search warrant, while the attributed illegal sale of marijuana had
happened on October 18, 1994 during the test buy conducted to support the
application of the search warrant. The letter specifically stated:
xxxx
3. The two incidents, the sale on 18 October 1994 and the seizure on 19 October
1994 are separate incidents giving rise to two distinct offenses;
4. We cannot assume that the accused was engaged in the "sale of prohibited
drugs" on 19 October 1994 because he was engaged in it before.1wphi1 There is
no evidence to show that the accused was engaged in the sale, administration,
delivery, distribution and transportation of drugs as provided under Section 4;
5. The two (2) P50.00 bills are not enough to prove that the accused was engaged
in selling the 750 grams of marijuana leaves. They can prove the sale on 18
October 1994 but cannot qualify his possession of the 750 grams of the drugs.
xxxx
Nonetheless, the conviction of Manansala stands.
The CA correctly declared that the illegal possession of marijuana was "a crime
that is necessarily included in the crime of drug pushing or dealing, for which the
accused have been charged with." The right of Manansala to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation against him enunciated in Section 14(2),
Article III of the 1987 Constitution21 was not violated simply because the
information had precisely charged him with selling, delivering, giving away and
distributing more or less 750 grams of dried marijuana leaves. Thereby, he was

being sufficiently given notice that he was also to be held to account for
possessing more or less 750 grams of dried marijuana leaves. As Lacerna and
similar rulings have explained, the crime of illegal sale of marijuana defined and
punished under Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, implied the
prior possession of the marijuana. As such, the crime of illegal sale included or
absorbed the crime of illegal possession. The rule is that when there is a variance
between the offense charged in the complaint or information, and that proved or
established by the evidence, and the offense as charged necessarily includes the
offense proved, the accused shall be convicted of the offense proved included in
that which is charged.22 According to Section 5, Rule 120, Rules of Court (1985),
the rule then applicable, an offense charged necessarily includes that which is
proved, when some of the essential elements or ingredients of the former, as this
is alleged in the complaint or information, constitute the latter.
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on July 26,
2006; and ORDERS accused CHAD MANANSALA y LAGMAN to pay the
costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice